January 17, 2012

Confusion over the Fate of 'Aakash' Tablet

The grand launch of Android tablet computer ‘The Aakash’ in New Delhi on October 5, 2011, has turned out to be cropper, as confusion over its fate has marred the hype and joy.

When some argue that it is a complete failure, the Communications and Information Technology Ministry seems satisfied and plans to launch its upgraded version.

Akash tablet was developed as part of the country's aim to link 25,000 colleges and 400 universities in an e-learning program and to improve the system of education in India.

It has been jointly developed by the London-based company DataWind and the Indian Institute of Technology, Rajasthan.

The tablet features an overall size of 190.5 x 118.5 x 15.7mm with a 7 inches resistive touchscreen, a weight of 350 grams and using the Android 2.2 operating system with access to the proprietary marketplace Getjar developed by DataWind.

The processor runs at 366 MHz; there is a graphics accelerator and HD video coprocessor. The tablet has 256 MB RAM, a micro SD slot with a 2 GB Micro SD card (expandable to 32 GB), two USB ports, a 3.5 mm audio output and input jack, a 2100 mAh battery, Wi-Fi capability, a browser developed by DataWind, and an internal cellular and Subscriber Identity Module modem. Power consumption is 2 watts, and there is a solar charging option.

The Aakash domar is designed to support various document (DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, ODT, ODP, PDF), image (PNG, JPG, BMP and GIF), audio (MP3, AAC, AC3, WAV, WMA) and video (MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, FLV) file formats and includes an application for access to YouTube video content also.

Reception of the tablet was very poor. Problems such as low memory, frequent system freezes, poor sound quality, absence of support for all formats and inability to install free software available online were cited by the users to be its flaws.

Many users opine that the processor is a self killer, touchscreen is too much resistive, the tablet is heating up quickly, it has no Bluetooth, no support for a USB dongle, no Android Market, no app installation and its Hardware would not support upgrades.

But the doubts about ‘Aakash’ were also dismissed in a television program "Gadget Guru" aired on NDTV in August 2010 when it was shown to have 256 MB RAM and 2 GB of internal flash-memory storage and demonstrated running the Android operating system featuring video playback, internal Wi-Fi and cellular data via an external 3G modem.

Again, inspired by the feedback of the tablet from over 500 users from IITs and other institutions, DataWind announced the next iteration, a substantially upgraded second-generation model called UbiSlate 7+ tablet.

Hence, despite the technical flaws, it is expected that Aakash will continue to make a buzz in the Indian market for a long period.

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