THE BOTTOM FALLS OUT
THE BOFFINS AT DATAWIND TAKE A SMALL STEP FOR THEIR COMPANY, A GIANT LEAP FOR COMPUTING DEVICES. THEIR UBISLATE TABLET COMES AT A ROCK-BOTTOM PRICE.
First things first: You will not rave about the performance of the Ubislate, or Aakash as the Government prefers to call it. Datawind’s 7-inch tablet comes with a sticky resistive touch display, a three-hour battery and no 3G connectivity. The company does not even call it a tablet.
That done with, now let’s come to why it is here on the GG Choice page, which features the best product of the month. Let’s just put it this way: Suddenly, you don’t need a pricey smartphone to be able to access social media sites, apps and multimedia, all at the same time. Yes, that is why the Ubislate earns a place for itself on this page. It may only be a poor relative in the whole family engendered by the ipad, but even with its simplest of powers, it makes the members of the smartphones clan look up and take notice.
At 2,999, the Ubislate (the government-issue Aakash is tagged at $35 or around 1,700) is at least a couple of thousand rupees less than the most basic Android phone. Even without 3G, it affords quick access to the Internet via Wi-fi and GPRS (the government version does not have GPRS and speakers). Datawind’s patented data-compression technology makes web access via GPRS much quicker than normal. Its multimedia capabilities are good, with loud audio and clear video on its 800x480 resolution screen. It runs on Android v2.1 and has a 2100 mah battery. Add 300 more and you will get a keyboard plus protective case for the tablet. (And for those who require such things, the 7 incher comes with two USB ports…take that ipad and Galaxy Tab!)
Why the price is important while putting the Ubislate in its correct place in the tablet panoply is because it could trigger a fall in the price of basic machines. Datawind is itself already working on giving the device a capacitive screen and 3G connectivity. This version will be priced around 7,000, making it, when it releases, the cheapest 3G tablet in the market. The aim thereafter is to bring down the price— through sheer volume sales—to
3,000. In fact, Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, says that his company is trying to tweak costs to make the capacitive screen avatar of the Government’s Aakash available for the same price as the current resistive screen version. It can dare such a thing because, thanks to the Union HRD Ministry, it has guaranteed sales of 1,00,000 units. Add to that the numbers from the commercial retail of the Ubislate. Then think of where such a pricing would leave the expensive smartphones or the mid-range tablets.
The protective case-cum-
keyboard holder allows the
Ubislate to be positioned
upright for easy viewing and
For a small
additional sum, you
can get a keyboard that
attaches to the Ubislate
via a USB port.