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India's $35 Tablet Computer

kdawson posted more than 2 years ago | from the take-that-olpc dept.

Education 294

NotBornYesterday was one of many readers sending in news that the Indian government has announced it is helping to develop a $35 tablet computer running Linux. "India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011. The government plans to subsidize the tablets so the cost to students could be $20; and eventually, they hope the cost will fall to $10 per unit. India's human resource development minister, Kapil Sibal, says, 'The motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything.' Using a memory card instead of a hard drive, and running a Linux OS, the designers have managed to keep the price low, and are now looking for manufacturing partners. The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, Web browsing, and video conferencing. It has a solar power option too, which is important in India's less developed areas, though that add-on costs extra."

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294 comments

At that price.. (5, Interesting)

Walterk (124748) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002608)

Sign me up for one. Maybe 5.

Re:At that price.. (0, Offtopic)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002654)

Sign me up for one. Maybe 5.

Just don't be surprised then the electricity bill will be much higher then using some modern hardware.

Re:At that price.. (3, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002942)

Why? Plentiful electricity is a much bigger issue in India. It's bound to be frugal with energy, most likely having some ARM, etc.

Re:At that price.. (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002962)

Why am I picturing something that resembles an Etch-a-Sketch?

Re:At that price.. (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003446)

This Etch-a-Sketch here? Yes, I can confirm that it has dual "arm" sub-units controlled by a powerful neural net CPU (a learning computer)!

Re:At that price.. (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003448)

Why am I picturing something that resembles an Etch-a-Sketch?

The resemblance ends when you try to plug an Etch-a-Sketch into the wall. Apparently running a current through one is not a good idea...

Re:At that price.. (3, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002958)

It will likely use a fraction of electricity that a modern laptop uses. If for no other reason than at that price point you can't get batteries with big capacities plus all the other components.

So the bill won't be higher, even with 5. Now, if you did a beowulf cluster with 1000s, yeah, some pricier components probably will give better performance per electrical unit.

Re:At that price.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003138)

Just don't be surprised then [sic] the electricity bill will be [sic] much higher then [sic] using some modern hardware.

What information do you have that would remotely support this conclusion?

To make a $35 laptop, they don't have a huge R&D effort making their own parts to compete with Intel and Corsair. They're going to use commodity (read: cheap, reliable, off-the-shelf) components (motherboard, cpu, ram, etc.) that are Linux-supported -- or close enough to be able to add support without too much effort.

Considering that they're going to have a solar-powered option -- with solar power generating about 10-watts per sq ft -- how big exactly did you imagine this laptop?

The basic formula for posting on a forum is:

1) Think.
2) Type.

You missed a step.

Re:At that price.. (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003406)

The basic formula for posting on a forum is:

1) Think. 2) Type.

Whoa there, buddy. This isn't any old forum.

This community is comprised of people who have already done all the thinking they need to do; furthermore, both the *amount* and the *comparative intelligence* of the thinking of a single slashdotter surpasses the collective mental output of a medium-sized nation of Joe Sixpack, Suzie Handbag, and the other normals. We are each already are experts on any topic that could come up in an article discussion.

Your formula is one step too long for those that inhabit the nerve centers of the beast we call Slashdot.

It seems you put a lot of thought into your post -- which is wrong, for Slashdot. You should already know what to type without thinking. You, sir, are a poseur.

Re:At that price.. (1)

kanto (1851816) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003164)

Just don't be surprised then the electricity bill will be much higher then using some modern hardware.

It's postmodern hardware so it'll come with a handcrank.

Re:At that price.. (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003310)

Have you seen modern hardware? Below a thershold, the lower the cost, the less power it uses. Sure, a cheap laptop using a desktop Intel processor will use more power than a cheap laptop using the latest Laptop Enhanced (tm) processor. But I assure you, a nice little dirt cheap C3 Erza will hardly be noticed by anything.

Re:At that price.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003118)

Precisely.

Give me two, put a hinge between them (and a usb cable). Put leather around it (or maybe faux leather, because, you know...)

Hell, make it the "signature edition" and I'll gladly buy a 3rd unit for an Indian student. Everyone wins.

Tablet implies a touchable screen... (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002614)

...but what kind? TFA didn't make any mention of it (or any specs, for that matter). Anyone have any additional info on this thing?

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (1, Funny)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002830)

At a $35 price point, I would posit that any touchscreen could be categorized as 'shitty' although there is a chance that it will be 'sucktastic'.

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (4, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002868)

I guess it could have just as well an UI like ATMs or, basically, many "feature phones" - buttons around the screen (is it even color? Or maybe just CSTN, etc.?) corresponding to functionality. That would complicate some stuff of course - but it could even have a full mini keyboard? (mobile phone style? Kindle has it) Throw in USB for some external one, they're inexpensive.

Or perhaps touchscreens have become in reality cheap enough, we just aren't allowed to experience it... (certainly it seems they can potentially become cheaper? - massively easier mechanical design, not much addition of electroncic stuff)

I'm really glad from this announcement (and XO-3) - they show what the price really can be. Now, hopefully this category of devices won't be derailed a bit, like what basically happened to netbooks so far...

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (2, Informative)

anirudh vij (1119177) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002902)

No specs released yet. All thats certain is that it has a touchscreen,internet access (wifi), usb ports, and a form factor thats something like a smallish rectangular ipad

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (5, Informative)

anirudh vij (1119177) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003036)

ok sorry. Posted too early. 2GB solid state disk with 32 GB addon. 2 watts power consumption. Solar panel addon (price not included in base cost). & inch touch screen. Got this from http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2010/07/23/23-tablet-pc-unveiled-in-india/ [electricpig.co.uk]

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (5, Informative)

anirudh vij (1119177) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003450)

Quoting from http://news.softpedia.com/news/Indian-Government-Unveils-Quite-Powerful-10-Tablet-148828.shtml [softpedia.com] """ At the heart of the 10.5-inch tablet lies an ARM chip. The exact chip set to be used has not been disclosed, but it is known that 2GB of memory will be present to back it up. The display is a color touchscrenn with multi-touch support. Furthermore, the configuration includes cloud storage, 10/100 Ethernet, WiFi b/g , a so-called highly-customized operating system and even support for Adobe Flash. Thus, there will be no issues regarding online videos and interactive educational content. Finally, the device comes with a digital camera and compatibility with OpenOffice.org documents, Adobe PDF and various multimedia formats. """

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003086)

If it can do word processing, browse the internet and maybe spreadsheets... and its $35, I'll buy one.

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003358)

Hell, I'd buy one just to take notes in meetings at work. I can hardly read my own handwriting, lol

Re:Tablet implies a touchable screen... (1)

billyswong (1858858) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003490)

If it can do word processing, browse the internet and maybe spreadsheets... and its $35, I'll buy one.

But it can't run flash games!

Cheap stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33002622)

Wonder if Europeans could get one.

AP link (3, Informative)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002628)

Do go to the AP link if you want to "see" it. Funny that they start their story, "It looks like an iPad." The next line should have been, "But I guess you'll never know."

Pics are on the second link here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/07/23/india.thirty.five.dollar.laptop/ [cnn.com]

Re:AP link (2, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002708)

Pics are still less than satisfactory. What goes into this design, and what are the catches ? Slow as hell ? No touchscreen ?

Incidentially the second part of the article is (potentially) revealing :

"The aim is to reach such devices to the students of colleges and universities, and to provide these institutions a host of choices of low-cost access devices around Rs 1,500 ($35) or less in near future," the human resources ministry said at the launch of the computer.

Meaning it's not this tablet that's $35, it's just that they're working on devices like that. Could this mean that they don't actually have device schematics for this device at $35 ?

Re:AP link (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003050)

How exactly would a tablet without a touchscreen work? I think they call that a picture.

Re:AP link (4, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002748)

Re:AP link (2)

dpolak (711584) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003220)

Damn it's running Android. Sign me up for 4 of them. This would be a great tool to use.

It would be nice to see the specs on it, as well as what it would take to get them shipped here with the solar kit.

creepy (0, Offtopic)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003288)

Is it just me or does that guy look really, really creepy?

http://androidos.in/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/android-tablet-india-1.jpg

Re:AP link (2, Informative)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003560)

Thanks for that link, with not only pictures, but some useful specs:
"According to the details,the tablet will come in three versions of 5, 7, and 9 inches display. It will be packed with 2 GB RAM memory, wi-fi connectivity, USB port and powered by a 2-watt system to suit poor power supply areas. It will laso have apps like internet browser, PDF reader, video conferencing facilities, open office, sci-lab, media player, remote device management capability, multimedia input-output interface option, and multiple content viewer."

2-watt, wifi, 2GB RAM? 5-9 inch screens? For US$35? SOLD. I'll take two. Even if the processor turns out to be the equivalent of a Pentium Classic (but I'd guess a-few-hundred-Mhz ARM or equivalent i.e. at least as fast as the overpriced and still-out-of-date Motorola® CLIQ with MOTOBLUR (as they insist on calling it in print). Definitely a bargain if one will be able to actually get them outside of India)...

Re:AP link (1)

Reginald2 (1859758) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002772)

Why does it look like the case is alligator skin? I'm not sure, but don't they give a shit about things like that? Aside from that little oversight, this could be the last nail in the American-technology coffin.

Here we go again. (-1, Flamebait)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002630)

Again India, they try to produce super cheap stuff nobody real wants. Why would I buy their junk, when 2nd hand stuff in my country cost the same and is much better? I can already get a 2nd hand PC for almost nothing, but since I earn enough, I want to spoil myself.

This is for us? (3, Interesting)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002688)

I mean just doing a quick scan of the article it makes it sound like it's more for Indians (dot, not feather) and other 3rd worlders. You know, people that can't blow a thousand bucks on a computer. If it helps improve their standard of living more power to them. (Hopefully it gets further than that One Laptop thing.)

Re:This is for us? (3, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003302)

I mean just doing a quick scan of the article it makes it sound like it's more for Indians ... and other 3rd worlders. ... If it helps improve their standard of living more power to them. (Hopefully it gets further than that One Laptop thing.)

It's weird that this got a "troll" mod, when it's directly to the point. It's especially appropriate in comparison with all the posts saying in essence that it'll be a crappy machine for 1st-world countries. People have missed the point that wealthy populations aren't the intended customers. Don't expect to order one of these from Dell or Amazon. The customers are people whose annual income is less than most /. readers make in a day.

The OLPC comparison is also relevant. One thing this price point should help with is that we might not see a repeat of Microsoft sending in reps to "talk to" the managers looking to order these machines. That was partially effective at limiting the OLPC, but it's clear that this machine is aimed at a market in areas where Windows is available, but people can't afford it even if they can get it free.

This thing's main competitors are cheap phones, for which it is an upgrade. Comparing it with first-world laptops and desktops merely shows cluelessness.

(Actually, comparing it with the iPhone/iPad pair might be relevant. But there's no real competition there, because they're aiming at a market in which an iPhone or iPad costs more than the mean annual income. ;-)

Re:Here we go again. (4, Insightful)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002778)

Again India, they try to produce super cheap stuff nobody real wants. Why would I buy their junk, when 2nd hand stuff in my country cost the same and is much better? I can already get a 2nd hand PC for almost nothing, but since I earn enough, I want to spoil myself.

India isn't trying to sell you anything. From the article:

The project is part of an ambitious education technology initiative, which also aims to bring broadband connectivity to India's 25,000 colleges and 504 universities and make study materials available online.

Re:Here we go again. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33002920)

Don't buy it if you don't want to, motherfucker. They're not holding a gun to your ass and forcing you to buy it.

Re:Here we go again. (4, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003028)

You can get a second-hand tablet for how much?

I scored an X41 Tablet for about $150 total, with two worn batteries and a busted up stylus. Not a touch screen, but a tablet. Works fine, but that's not $35. I spend more than that for the recovery disk set. Yes, I am that obsessed.

For even $100, this gives Negroponte's dream a run for the money.

India strives for self-sufficiency. It;s not cheap to them, it's affordable and sustainable.

Re:Here we go again. (4, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003112)

I think you need to keep yourself better informed.

Firstly, the salary for an IT job in India is somewhere around 15-20% what it is here in the UK - even so, someone on that salary in India is earning a good wage. It therefore makes sense that electronics goods would also be proportionately priced.

Secondly, there is a stronger cultural link between wealth and status in India - a man on a high salary will have have no shortage of potential wives knocking at his door - but they are also less materialistic than us. Therefore, the importance you and I might place on the functionality of a device is perhaps less important to an Indian. So please don't judge everyone else by our standards.

Thirdly, India is not known for exporting high-tech goods to the West, it is a country aimed at providing a cheaper-to-hire English-speaking service industry workforce to the West. And because I detect some sour grapes over outsourcing in the tone of your message, please target your wrath at the rich Western CEOs pocketing the cost differential between hiring staff in the USA or Europe than in India - after all, if somebody offered you a higher paid job than what you're in at the moment, you'd at least consider it even if you didn't take it. So why should anyone in India be any different?

Bad FA (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002674)

No specs at all. How fast is its processor? How much memory? Is it touch enabled? TFA doesn't say.

Re:Bad FA (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002724)

For that price I'd get one anyway!

Re:Bad FA (2, Informative)

rotide (1015173) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002802)

I'm going to have to agree. For $35 I'd pick one up just to see what it does. Even if I had to get a wireless kb/mouse to use it, it would still be an interesting toy. The funny part is, the wireless kb/mouse combo might cost more than the tablet!

Re:Bad FA (2, Interesting)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003308)

Could not agree more. $35 for this would be incredible, at this price point it is even more attractive than simple e-readers. Like any other tablet this is perfect for portable internet browsing. But at this cheap price I would be more comfortable taking it into the kitchen to read recipes or out to the garage to review car repair walkthroughs, those are things I would not do with a $600 iPad.

Though one point I wasn't exactly clear on in the article was the subsidy that India would provide to students purchasing this. I wonder if their claimed $35 cost already includes a hypothetical subsidy.

Re:Bad FA (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003398)

"India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011. The government plans to subsidize the tablets so the cost to students could be $20; and eventually, they hope the cost will fall to $10 per unit."

Sounds like the unit actually costs $35 to make in India.
With initial subsidy: $20
Cost drop with sustained subsidy: $10 hopefully (cheaper parts, etc)

You know it won't be a great PC for $35, but if it has WiFi, does basic web browsing (non-flash, etc, just JavaScript) and can display PDF's/eBooks.. WIN!. A take anywhere and not worry about it PC.

Later that day (-1, Troll)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002714)

India announced a $10 house and a sub-$100 space shuttle. This sounds like the $2500 car (that doesn't exist) and the $10 laptop (that doesn't exist). It seems to be working--they keep ending up in the news. Maybe we could hold off until one of these products exists?

Re:Later that day (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33002804)

The car does exist you pretentious moron!!! it's called the TATA Nano and it's running on the roads!! do a friggin' google search! and there was never a sub-$100 shuttle!! atleast much better than the stupid NASA running losses!!!

Re:Later that day (5, Informative)

toppavak (943659) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002844)

You mean the Tata Nano [tatamotors.com]?

Re:Later that day (-1, Offtopic)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002946)

Why would someone name a car "little boobs" --- i don't get it? Isn't that almost as bad as trying to sell a nova ('no va' -- doesn't go in Spanish) in Mexico?

It's going to suck. (0, Troll)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002720)

I have tried at LEAST 15 different Android tablets and all of them are garbage hardware that is too slow to run even Android 1.5... how are they going to make an even cheaper tablet that will actually have battery life and run a GUI?

$35.00 = 200mhz processor and almost no ram and storage plus B&W screen.

If the biggest electronics makers cant make a $199.00 tablet with a free GUI/OS called android work well, how the hell do they think they can do it in less than 25%?

Re:It's going to suck. (3, Insightful)

SLot (82781) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002798)

It may suck compared to what you and I are used to, but it's better than nothing at all.

I imagine those that will be using them will sing a slightly different tune than you do.

Re:It's going to suck. (5, Interesting)

Dashiva Dan (1786136) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002976)

Looking at the articles and pics of it, it does indeed have a colour screen.
And your statement brings out my real question:
If india can make a working tablet for $35 that, while probably underpowered, can do web, email, and wordprocessing,
Why are the big companies cheapest products $200 or more?
Hopefully, after (if) these get rolled out in India, the other manufacturers will start competing a little harder.
Also, if this Indian tablet supports flash, I'll have a nice little chuckle.

Re:It's going to suck. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003228)

$35 is the parts cost, not the cost for the consumer. You need to compare like to like, and we don't have a consumer cost for this, and we don't have parts cost for the others.

Re:It's going to suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003546)

Ah, well, the prototype parts are $35, they say. To get this thing up and saleable in Western markets, you're going to have to jump through all manner of hoops for CE certification, physical testing, durability, servicing, legal fees, distribution channels, advertising, yada yada - it'll hit $100 before it gets anywhere near you.
With the Indian government sponsoring it, they can "eliminate" a lot of our standard consumer regulations and testing and standards compliance for their local population. They don't need to advertise it either, or wrap it up, or provide manuals in 10 languages - it'll be handed out in volume at universities and schools, and there's plenty of brains and energy there to cover the shortfall of not having a "commercial" product. Just reading slashdot histories about the XO shows that getting such beasties to market is a hard task indeed. Not to mention the FUD that will fly once the incumbents get wind of being undercut like that.

Hey, guess what...? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002990)

I bet a lot of Indian kids would be ecstatically happy with Best Buy home theater, as would YOU if you had nothing else.

Re:It's going to suck. (1)

SchizoDuckie (1051438) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003004)

You have tried 15 *android* tablets? I've actually seen *ONE* in real life, 230 on the 'We are creating an android tablet!' bandwagon, and maybe 4 that are for sale on chinavasion.com with 5-7" screens Which have you tested then ? (and you know the ones you printed yourself on cardboard don't count!')

Re:It's going to suck. (1, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003070)

Pandigital Novel - Best of them all as it runs Android 2.0

Archos 7 -- utter and COMPLETE garbage... Hardware was designed by a insane idiot that was being hit in the head with a hammer while being designed.

Archos 5 -- Better than the 7 but still complete crap.

Matricom tablet - Can we put a slower processor in there as well as not let it sleep?

Camangi Webstation -- Just plain old junk.

E-Lectio M5 This one crashed on a regular basis. it also would turn its self on for no reason at random times.

Several of the china UMPC tablets ranging from $99.00 to $199.00 many are copies of each other.

I suggest you actually look to see what is out there.. Most of them are complete junk because of really low grade hardware, bad design or simply idiots at the wheel during design phase.

Re:It's going to suck. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003052)

Back in the day we used to get a lot done on 8mhz [wikipedia.org] and half a meg of RAM with a B&W screen.

Re:It's going to suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003508)

A 32-bit CPU running at 8 MHz and 512 KiB of RAM running a GUI? I used to get a lot done on an 8-bit CPU running at 1.79 MHz [wikipedia.org] and only 64 KiB of RAM running a Basic interpreter.

Re:It's going to suck. (3, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003166)

According to Engadget, it has 2 GB of RAM (see http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/23/35-tablet-from-india-looks-to-be-worth-every-paisa-video/ [engadget.com] )

But I think a lot of price considerations have to do with the fact that most westerners aren't going to buy something with a price point that is "too" cheap. People are used to paying $200 for even the cheapest notebooks/netbooks/tablets, if people see a $35 one, they are probably just going to buy the more expensive one to save on "quality" even if they are the same device.

Of course, this was the same India that created the $10 non-laptop-component-printer that cost $30... So take any reports from cheap electronics in India with a grain of salt...

Re:It's going to suck. (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003394)

I would take gladly B&W screen in the least expensive versions; why do we need color for most of the stuff we do on PCs/etc. anyway? (accidentally, the /. page on which I'm writing this reply is completelly greyscale except for yellow "DON'T FEAR THE PUNGUINS"...that's why we need color?)

Cheaper, saving battery, can be made very good even without backlight (saving the costs and even more the battery) - what's not to like?

Innovation! (5, Insightful)

artgeeq (969931) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002870)

I think this is a big deal. Who really believes that outsourcing technology operations to India and China does not have a long-term consequence? With time, India and China will become innovators -- if they have not already. Reportedly, China has already built the world's second-fastest supercomputer, and is fabricating its own chips (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/science/01compute.html).

Imagine, now, young people thoughout the world writing software. What platform would they choose? If I was growing up in India and had an accessible computer for $35, I probably would not want to pay a whole lot more for a Windows computer.

Maybe this tablet does not quite have it right, technologically. But it is a step forward and an indication of intention on the part of the Indian government.

Re:Innovation! (4, Interesting)

pankajmay (1559865) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003038)

Rightly said!
This is simply an example of countries trying to develop themselves and their resources. It may be shitty compared to what is available in the developed world, but its a start -- we have all paid through our noses for costly micro-processing power that sometimes are pathetically underutilized doing tasks such as browsing and occasional document composition.

Though I am aware that the original article is sorely lacking details, and it seems more a marketing hype, but even if they manage to do take off with this, it will be marvelous and a little help to millions who at this point cannot even hope to achieve a life with basic necessities, leave alone sitting comfortably ordering a powerful computer.

This is not for Americans, nor should it be expected that the hardware would be any comparable to what is considered minimal in America, but its a start; an attempt to introduce a bit of technology so people who would otherwise have no chance to even aim for a middle-class life are empowered.

Indian government develops computers? (1, Interesting)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002940)

The only reason for a government to be involved in financing development of computers is where it is not profitable for private businesses to do so, i.e it's just another subsidy and probably another national pride project. They might get a better bang for the rupee by spending the same money on subsidizing purchases of existing cheap netbooks and such which are much more powerful than this device could possibly be at that price.

Re:Indian government develops computers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003092)

Industry companies were invited at the beginning to participate in the project and they declined, presumably because they do not believe an acceptable profit margin can be made at such prices. Developing the project from ground up, design, manufacturing, deployment, application development, etc can be a huge factor in providing jobs, increasing the share of the population with a basic understanding of computing, and facilitating broad education pursuits. All this could contribute to an Indian population whose talents and abilities would be more compelling for foreign investors, creating more investments, and more jobs and more tax revenue.

Re:Indian government develops computers? (2, Interesting)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003110)

Well, sometimes government gets involved because the private business are too busy running around each other to show any kind of creativity and explore a new market. That is not aways, mind you; not even most of the time. It is just that some times that happens.

Re:Indian government develops computers? (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003342)

Anytime that the government gets involved, it leads to unsustainable projects with no real market, no real innovation, and poor implementation to get a government contract and free money.

Look at Ethanol, sounds great, gas from plants, renewable and good for the environment... Except for the fact it takes more energy to make it than the ethanol contains. But of course the government subsidizes it which leads people to grow corn for ethanol rather than for feed and so taxpayers not only have to pay higher food costs but also have to pay for the subsidizes for a project that makes no sense.

Rather than looking towards good ways to tap a market, government involvement leads to lower quality and total disregard for the target market.

Re:Indian government develops computers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003444)

Like ARPANET?

Yes, current ethanol (especially corn ethanol) is a subsidy laden boondoggle. But it's worth trying if nothing else for the science.

If they would now instead allow for other organics, like sugar cane (like Brazil does, and, I might add, are pretty successful at) or those algae farms, we might be on to something.

It's simply a matter of finding the right materials.

Re:Indian government develops computers? (3, Informative)

pankajmay (1559865) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003124)

You know that is a topic that is currently being fiercely debated in the civil society of India.

Just like here in America, you have people who do not want government to be involved at all and then there are those who support government takeover.

However, since the Indian economy has largely been a pseudo-capitalist economy and largely socialist until the early 1990s, the government gets away by doing this without any rigorous study of whether it should be doing it or handing it to private enterprise..

I suppose as capitalism strengthens over time, and people realize that entrepreneurship is in their best interest, you will find this debate getting intense. Especially since the country is already a democracy, and as people become assured of their basic necessities, they start questioning the opportunities afforded to them.

Re:Indian government develops computers? (1)

DemApples (1770824) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003176)

Um, more people rising up from gutter rat to middle class, especially in the computer market, which is absolutely KILLER for bringing in foreign coin instead of just cycling rupees internally - how do you not see this as a HUGE win for India? They are big enough to execute and they remove some of the price because of reduced profit motive - just charge enough to cover costs, and wait for the inevitable benefits.

web browsing in less developed areas (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002956)

It has a solar power option too, which is important in India's less developed areas,

I predict that the added cost of the satellite phone link up will be a show stopper.

Part Cost != Sale Cost (1)

nweaver (113078) | more than 2 years ago | (#33002972)

I can easily believe that they could get the bill of materials cost down to $35, but...

That doesn't mean it costs $35: manufacturing adds a lot. The cheapest mobile phone (which has roughly the same part cost except the screen is VASTLY cheaper) is still $50 unsubsidized.

Re:Part Cost != Sale Cost (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003386)

Uhm... Maybe in the States with a very messed up mobile phone market...

I know you can get Nokias for under 30 bucks...

http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.209-1392.aspx - alcatel do one for 15 bucks. Bluetooth, Colour screen... This is with the manufacturer and the store making a profit.

Don't think profit is the driver on this project though.

Re:Part Cost != Sale Cost (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003410)

No the cheapest mobile phone here in india is Rs 900 ~ 18$

Inevitable (1)

symes (835608) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003006)

The way things are going it is only a matter of time before we start to see interactive packaging - and therefore greater penetration by advertisers...

India Tablets: One Man's Story (5, Funny)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003012)

I found myself having fainted for dehydration outside a small village in Uttar Pradesh. I came to but was apparantly delirious, blathering wildly about my deadlines - but it was my gestures which were to change my life from there on. My hands, so used to typing out at the desk, had begun to reanact keystrokes in the same manner as the fellow who plays Mozart's hands dash across the pianoforte keys in Amadeus.

A peasent stumbled across my slumped corpse; he last asked me what I was doing in a business suit in the glaring heat of the northern hemisphere in late June (this was about a month ago) . Fortunately he had water, and was able to drag me in to a nearby village. I apparantly spoke about all sorts of computing stuff. I even confessed I dreamt I left comments on tech sites but woke up of course to find none - sombrely the young man, a mere kid in his 20s, got up and left without even a word.

The man knew what was up; after my delirium had passed and I was coherant - a small, $35 Indian Tablet Computer lay infront of me. 'It is the best thing we can do instead of a keyboard' - said Ranvir, who had taken the exact funds from my wallet in exchange for it in the local tech market close to the Ganges. It was then my capitalist attitude morphed into a centre-left smorgasbord from a simple act of kindness. Of course it didn't make economic sense to rescue my incapicitated husk...it did not square with the Rand stuff I'd worshipped so libertarianistically.

Upon squaring together an Internet connection with mere gaffer tape and a mini-co axial carefully hammered into the 3.5mm audio jack...I was on. The world opened up, and as I sat in that little squalid shack which was my temporary home...blogging became something completely new. The egoistic, day-to-day mundane became the selfless and vivid recollection of events in the village who had granted me honorary citizen status. I got to know what broadband would feel like at 56k speed, but not due to poor latency...but instead economy components. Upon blogging my experience with the good samaritan and the villagers, a commenter posted:

"Hey man you should be like the chieftain or leader or some crap? Lead these folks into a revolutionary tech thing! -- Lance"

It was that night that I near-emptied my bank account buying 200 Tablets at $35 - that's $7000 bucks. I gave a tablet to every villager bar a few spares. It was then I set about making speeches about online rights. Having educated the villagers to open source rights, technology issues, we set about changing the world. Our first stop was a pilgrimage to the Nepalese steppes to sabotage a Dalai Lama press conference for publicity, but as about fifty of us packed up to go I received a call from David in editorial back home - my HTC Android! It was still on!

"Pete? Pete. Hi we need you back here in England as soon as possible there's a few urgents things to cover. Can you fly back tomorrow afternoon?"

A tear had already dropped from my face to the Tablet on the nearby bed. Two villagers had entered and were looking at me intently as I had my conversation in English: "Yeah, yeah I can make it...can you wire some cash over; I had some unexpected expenses and..."

Dave was in a hurry and brusque: "Okay, money will be in your account within a few hours. Be back here Tuesday morning - deadlines to fill and all that. Your computer has been pining for you I swear....later man."

Tablet PCs in India changed my life, and though my plans to become the head of a village failed and the depression built upon leaving...the experience shall never leave me.

All these tablet stories... (2, Insightful)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003022)

Whether they're Android, Meego, Win7, whatever.

I can't be the only one that's tired of hearing about them. And I'm willing to bet that the majority of them will never be in production.

Then again, I'm firmly in the netbook camp, so a tablet wouldn't appeal to me.

Why computers? (0, Offtopic)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003082)

When the average annual salary in India is approximately $500US [searchindia.com]? They would do far better applying their talents to eliminating hunger and poverty amongst their people than applying them to cheap computers.

Re:Why computers? (2, Insightful)

pankajmay (1559865) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003206)

True. But how do you eliminate hunger and poverty?

The middle-class in India thinks it is by education. Which happens to be largely correct. Poverty and hunger are not isolated problems individually, they are usually the result of:
  • Extreme crunch on resources and intense competition. (Remember this is the second most populous nation on this earth and smaller in size than USA)
  • Social factors (Yes, untouchability; caste system, which are still a big problem in rural India)

How would you then eliminate those? By providing opportunities; by opening up avenues; by making people aware that the world has a lot of other things which they can explore to realize, recognize their own talents, and empower themselves. So these kind of computer/technology distribution helps. Maybe not directly, but surely in a forceful way.

Hey, I would say that if India does manage to get it out of the marketing hype, this should be mass-produced, (maybe talents from here in USA can make it even more better by applying current advances) and sold universally to every country where people struggle.

Re:Why computers? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003524)

Indeed, why? Use your brains motherfucker.

1) Do not measure everything in Daaaaalarrrrrs. Get out of your American Pond. 500 Daaaalarrrs is equal to around 23000 rupees, which is enough to keep one decently clothed and fed, in INDIA, with INDIA's costs of living.

2) Developing technology and putting money in technology is the greatest way of creating jobs and reducing poverty. Are you one of those douchebags that wave placards against NASA?

If outsourcing to India has taught me anything... (2, Funny)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003140)

If outsourcing has taught me anything, this is going to BSOD unless you follow the step-by-step script that comes with the tablet.

Controversial (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003150)

That's a highly novel approach to economics. I wonder if they're even breaking even cost of production. Regardless, someone (the workers) is getting paid well below the minimum wage (if at all :). The provision of subsidies and this particular approach to education by the government is debatable at best in a country where would be much better suited for fixing railways and eliminating poverty.

Probably garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003208)

Probably underpowered and mostly useless. Kind of like the piece of shit Cisco 851 we sent back last week.

At $35 a piece... (2, Interesting)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003214)

Compare to this [aliexpress.com] which is at $85 in volume without shipping, I'm not sure how it can get the cost down to $10. Some very cheap ARM with integrated flash/ram still cost $10.

$100 floor (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003238)

This is wonderful. Talk about crashing through the $100 floor. Was nice when desktops smashed through the $1000 floor.

And there's still much waste in PC design. Look at the size of an average notebook versus a typical desktop, There's huge overprovisioning everywhere in the desktop. Computers have been in our faces for so long that we're not only accustomed to them taking substantial space, we practically demand it. Admit it, contemptuous thoughts about slowness, limitations, and compromises flit through our minds whenever we contemplate a PC that doesn't occupy a sizable tower. Someday towers will look as clunky as those 1970s Heathkit calculators [oldcalculatormuseum.com] that were almost the size of a shoe box and for input had basically the numeric keypad used on keyboards for desktop computers.

Even the typical netbook could be smaller. For instance, if the power consumption could be lowered even further, perhaps by running recent CPUs under 1GHz, then the power supply could be smaller, and maybe cooling fans could be omitted, saving even more space and power, and eliminating the biggest source of noise, and an expensive component. There is still much PC functionality split among many separate chips. I'm guessing these are some of what they're doing to ultimately get down to $10.

Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33003256)

It is not OK to talk about prototypes without providing pictures. Not OK.

Waste of money. (1, Troll)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003280)

If this thing truly costs $35 it's likely not much better than a calculator. Anything more than that and it didn't actually cost $35. Either someone's eating the cost or the government is subsidizing it.

And for this sort of thing it's always smarter and cheaper to go with something off the shelf. The money wasted on the OLPC project would have been better finding an existing cheap computer. Better yet, that money should have been used improving the quality of schools and education. Computers aren't some kind of panacea. Internet access isn't some kind of magical wonder that will provide instant education. It's not going to help at all if you don't know what you're looking for. From my experience the first thing everyone goes for is social networking. You could drop a dead computer in front of a kid and they'll start playing with it instead of paying attention.

India would be better served buying $50-$100 desktops and keeping them locked away in labs at school and used only for computer-specific classes. Computers are awesome tools with a ton of potential when applied correctly. Otherwise they're nothing but a massive and expensive distraction which I'm convinced which I'm far more likely to be a distraction in the classroom.

Re:Waste of money. (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003554)

Exactly, why innovate or come up with new ideas when there are old things that could potentially do the same thing! You're seriously arguing that they should be purchasing $50-100 desktops and locking them up instead of spreading around $35 ultra portable tablets?

resistive touch (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003426)

at that price it's resistive touch. if you wanted a palm pilot you can pick one up on ebay for about $20.

Hmm (4, Funny)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 2 years ago | (#33003456)

1. Build a prototype mock-up.
2. Hold press conference about a $35 tablet running Linux.
3. Wait for Microsoft to offer $$$ to switch to Windows.
4. Profit
??
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