Monday, 9 January 2012

Why Aakash?

Ever since the much awaited Aakash tablet PC has landed into hands of tech reviewers, it has become butt of various jokes. This post is intended for those who are in habit of reviewing iPads and Galaxy Tabs, which come brimming with latest specifications and dazzling looks. For starters, Aakash is not your everyday tablet pc with something of everything squeezed into it. The tab is primarily designed for kick starting union government's ambitious 'National Knowledge Network', thorough which the govt aims to promote the use of high end communication technology in higher education. More than 572 universities, 25,000 colleges and 2,000 polytechnics are expected to be connected through a dedicated network for this purpose.

Now, with such a mammoth task at hand, the arrival of Aakash on the scene has only made things look more achievable at least. Spec wise, the tablet offers just bare minimum or just about enough to justify its intended purpose. Aakash's 366 MHz processor and 256MB RAM were designed to give an e-reading platform to the students, who have not been touched by IT revolution yet. It had become imperative after the much touted, locally developed computer 'Sakshat' bombed.

Advent of Android as a viable platform over the last year rejuvenated the plans to provide the students with low cost tablets again. Another factor which goes in favour of Aakash is its price. At Rs 2,500, the device definitely is very attractive proposition indeed. It is the cheapest tablet available at the moment globally.

Aakash is intended to enable e-learning. Hence, it comes preloaded with Aldiko ebook reader premium, which lets you buy and read books on tab. So, you can say goodbye to heavy backpack now as most of your books are expected to be made available in e-format too.

Detractors may argue that since Aakash comes with WiFi connectivity only, which is rare in tier-2 cities, the device would not be of much use in those areas. But with colleges going on the grid sometime soon, that may change pretty quickly. Another major flaw is its battery performance, which is not what we had expected, given the conditions in which the tablet would be used. It is simply unfeasible for the students to run for charging points to recharge their battery every 2-3 hours.

The next generation of Aakash, UbiSlate 7, irons out all these creases by incorporating a more powerful processor, GPRS networking and a higher capacity battery. Datawind, the developer of Aakash, is already up full with orders, with some 20 lakh units booked and counting. So, for this one time, we can leave it to the sales volumes and consequently, the consumers to decide the fate of Aakash.

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