100,000 Tablets for School Children in New Delhi

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: In India today an announcement that makes the Kindle versus iPad Tablet price war seem pretty expensive. Officials in India announced the launch of a new touch-screen Tablet computer. They call it the Aakash and its government subsidized price is just $35. The retail version will run about $60. Either way it seems like a bargain. The goal is to help poor students in India gain access to the digital world. Rajat Agrawal is executive editor of BGR India, an online tech review company. He tried an Aakash today.

Rajat Agrawal: It looks like a Tablet. It works like a Tablet. Today, Aakash was distributed among a few kids who were invited for the launch. I got a hands-on of the device. What I feel is you need to really pull the screen hard to register a command.

Werman: Like, really pound your finger down on it.

Agrawal: Absolutely. It's a resistive screen not a capacitive. When it comes to Tablets, what consumers really hope for is an iPad kind of experience wherein things just happen. Over here, even if you pound your finger hard on the screen, it takes time because the processor is not that fast enough to process everything. Plus, it is a Wi-Fi only device with 3 hours of battery backup. Considering the fact that if the government really thinks it will push these devices into rural India where electricity is also a big problem, you need to keep charging this device every now and then.

Werman: My thoughts are immediately drawn to the experiment - one laptop per child - which aims to provide a $100 laptop to poor kids around the world. It wasn't a huge success. I mean, is it going to head in that direction, do you think? Or, do you see this launch as maybe getting some of the big bugs out of the way first?

Agrawal: I had an interaction with World PC Foundations India head last week, and I also got to play around with the World PC Notebook. To be very honest, that Notebook offers much more in terms of features, in terms of usability. It consumes less than 2 watts of power. It can be charged by using a crank shaft, so it can be charged by hand. Actual experience...you know it's eventually the experience that counts. Very honestly, Aakash falls in that trend. It's a very good initiative by the government; I appreciate that, and we all should for, at least, thinking on those lines. But, the experience part is missing over here. At least, what the government is now doing is converting all the textbooks out there which are in people format into e-books. That, I believe, is a bigger picture in this case.

Werman: I guess we will be talking to you again sometime in the future Rajat, when Aakash V2 comes out.

Agrawal: I hope so too [laughs].

Werman: [Laughs] Rajat Agrawal, executive editor of BGR India, thanks very much indeed.

Agrawal: You're most welcome.