Addressing the first convocation of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) at Hyderabad recently, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal affirmed that the upgraded version of India's low-cost tablet, Aakash 2 is set to launch formally “very soon” in the country. The report follows a report in late June that indicated the launch of Aakash 2 was scheduled for this month. Reports quoted him as saying, “It (the idea of low cost computer) was rejected throughout the world and it was said that India would not be able to make it. Our HRD ministry was committed to the Aakash project and ultimately we came out with the first version of the Aakash which costs Rs 2,276. Now, Aakash-2 has been rolled out with battery life of three hours, 800MHz processor, providing internet access everywhere and it has a capacitive screen. The process to distribute this device has begun and it would be formally launched very soon”.
Will the Aakash 2 launch this month?
In June, Sibal had announced that 100,000 units of the Akash 2 tablet would be provided to engineering colleges, deliveries for which were expected to begin last month. Sibal said, “That was the dream and I, as minister for Human Resource Development, asked myself the question can I provide a tablet to the students throughout the country that costs a reasonable amount so that all children can afford it and yet is able to deliver through the best technology, the vast information available on the net to them sitting wherever they are. We have realised a dream that was germinated a few years ago. We have been able to tell the world that through our frugal innovation system we can conquer the world and that's exactly what we need to do for India as a country”.
Earlier reports surrounding the Aakash 2 launch indicated that the tablet would run on Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS, priced aggressively at Rs. 2,263. The tablet is now ready for release. It comes packed with more features and enhanced speed than its predecessor. Talk about Android v4.0 (ICS) being included in Aakash 2 started in April, when Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind stated in an email that the Aakash 2 tablet will have 2GB flash storage, an 800MHz processor and 256MB RAM, which should be enough to handle ICS. The Aakash 2 is a significant upgrade over the original Aakash tablet. The initial version of the tablet had a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, which failed to respond to touch. It ran Android v2.2 on a 366MHz processor, based on an older ARM architecture. The Aakash 2 tablet is likely to be replaced by a successor, which will have a dual-core Cortex – A9 processor by the end of this year.
Along with IIT-Rajasthan, Canada-based Datawind took up the task of manufacturing the Aakash tablet in India for the masses. However, soon after, the tablet began facing a lot of criticism for its poor build quality, less-than-satisfactory battery, and other drawbacks. Altercations between Datawind and IIT-Rajasthan began over a set of specifications, which the latter wanted to incorporate on the tablet. IIT-Rajasthan wanted the Aakash tablet to be water-proof, and to include a set of some more military-style specifications. Datawind did not agree to these demands, since it believed a humble tablet like Aakash didn't need military-style specifications. Soon, the project went into the hands of IIT-Bombay.
It now remains to be seen, if the Aakash 2 does make it to the Indian markets this month, as promised.
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