Launched with much fan fare and a vision to empower the students on a mass level, Akash—the tablet priced at $35—is a much debated product amongst the technologists.
While some are quite gung ho about the tablet being a very cost effective option for students, others are trying to find if it is worth your money. With iPads setting up a certain standard for tablets in the mind of the end user, Akash appears to be a poor cousin!
Apart from the Android 2.2 operating system, screen width of 7 inches, 2 GB built-in memory, and Wi-fi enabled network, it also comes with 2 ports for USB drive, a feature missing in the original iPad. But that is just about the only extra feature that Akash can boast about.
But the question is, are these comparisons fair?
Akash has been conceptualized for a very different target audience—the students—with the aim to revolutionize the education system, especially in economically-backward areas. And with the price that lets you buy as many as 15 Akash tablets for the price of one iPad, it probably does meet its objective. With its ability to browse the Internet, create and edit files with Microsoft Office, download apps from the Android market, serve as an e-reader, open up files for a USB drive and connectivity to YouTube and Facebook, it caters to all the basic requirements of a student, and has been receiving positive feedback from the students who tested it before launch.
Still the question looms—so how exactly have they managed to kept costs so low?
Well, there are certain issues with it, like a resistive screen that hampers durability and visibility during the day, only 2–4 hour battery back-up, inability to use it in a room without Wi-Fi connectivity and the operating system which is actually optimized for mobiles. Now, whether or not these shortcomings are something to be worried about keeping in mind the usage requirements of a student is something that time will tell.
Till then, as Indians, we can certainly be proud of launching something that could revolutionize the education system.