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Creating the World's Cheapest Tablet

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the i-too-remember-the-etch-a-sketch dept.

Android 192

Back in October, we discussed news that India had launched a $35 tablet. Now, JohnWiney writes with a story in the Globe and Mail about the device's development. Quoting: "Part of the difficulty in engineering such a device is that the underlying goal—that its final price should be within the means of those who can’t afford high-priced tablets—dictates crucial engineering and component decisions. A piece of high-impact-resistant glass, such as the touchscreen face of an iPad, can cost upward of $20. Datawind’s touchscreen glass, which the company had engineered down the street, costs less than $2, though it won’t allow for luxuries like pinch-and-zoom finger swiping. There were also compromises on processing power: Datawind’s 366 megahertz processor costs less than $5, a fraction of the $15-plus price tag on the chips that power iPads and other comparable tablets. And while the decision to run Google’s free Android mobile operating system on the gadget saves money, it requires coders to dig deep into the Linux kernel that underpins the software, tweaking it until it runs smoothly on Datawind’s weaker processor."

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Race to the bottom (3, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543474)

Unfortunately, a race to the bottom will always result in a lower-quality experience. It doesn't seem worth it for the compromises made. Amusingly, devices like this get figured into the amorphous statistic of "Android marketshare" in countless forum operating system arguments.

Re:Race to the bottom (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543532)

You're posting this on a forum where a good number of readers are obsessed with Linux. It's not that Linux isn't a great OS (I use it for server-side stuff) but it certainly doesn't provide the polished overall experiences that Microsoft or Apple do.

There is a breakeven point for many people. Those people who are happy to pay $200 for a machine and spend the time getting it to run well with something like Linux even at the expense of a better experience which may cost 6x as much (Apple).

So, if someone cannot or is unwilling to pay $500 for an iPad but may be willing to pay less than $100, it's going to give a much better experience than nothing.

Re:Race to the bottom (4, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543616)

Depends a great deal on the distro. I've been using Linux Mint and I've spent very little time trying to fix it, probably similar to how much time I've spent trying to fix Win 7.

OTOH, Arch, Gentoo and similar are aimed at people that are more interested in controlling their complete experience, and probably take more time to maintain.

Re:Race to the bottom (2)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543716)

It depends heavily on your hardware, too -- especially for laptop systems. Particularly on brand new machines, there's often things that just don't work or don't work by default yet, though these pieces of hardware often have their support (and default setup) improved over the span of a few years -- which, for some people, is just in time to replace their old machine.

Re:Race to the bottom (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543772)

That's a fair point, most of the time I've found that just buying quality components makes a lot of those problems go away. Granted it's not perfect, but for the most part I've found computers that work well on Linux tend to work well on Windows because they've been well designed. A large number of problems I've run into over the years were the result of manufacturers taking shortcuts or using inferior components.

Re:Race to the bottom (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543920)

It depends heavily on your hardware, too

Same thing with popular proprietary systems too like OSX and Android. People don't seem to have a problem with the concept of just buying hardware that these operating systems are intended for so why not do that for Linux without having to make an issue out of it? And, yes, I know Android is Linux.

Re:Race to the bottom (4, Funny)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543742)

"It's not that Linux isn't a great OS (I use it for server-side stuff) but it certainly doesn't provide the polished overall experiences that Microsoft or Apple do."

Major flamewar imminent! EVERYONE, GET TO THE BUNKER!

Re:Race to the bottom (3, Funny)

dakara (798841) | more than 2 years ago | (#38545156)

Major flamewar imminent! EVERYONE, GET TO THE BUNKER!

Major flamewar imminent! EVERYONE, GET TO THE CHOPPA!
FTFY

Re:Race to the bottom (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543842)

There is a breakeven point for many people. Those people who are happy to pay $200 for a machine and spend the time getting it to run well with something like Linux even at the expense of a better experience which may cost 6x as much (Apple).

Wow, get your head out of your ass, loser. I am surrounded by an iPad, a Xoom running ice cream sandwich, a Macbook pro, a windows 7 laptop and the machine that I am typing this on right now that surprise surprise is running Ubuntu 11.10. News flash bitch: people don't use Linux because it's cheap. Duh, Windows comes "free" on every computer that is bought practically. People use Linux because it is essentially malware free, doesn't hassle you with bullshit key codes just to install your software, it has an "app store" chock full of everything you need, and when you have hardware that is designed for it (just like windows and your precious fucking OSX), it Just Works(TM) hassle free all the live long day. So stick your arrogant condescending Stockholme Syndrome-esque love for osx and windows up your big fat ass, fuck face.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543922)

Maybe that's what YOU use it for. You're in the minority.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544118)

Maybe that's what YOU use it for. You're in the minority.

Bull fucking shit I'm in the minority. The vast majority of people do just a few things on their computers. Those things mainly being 1) browse sitonmyFacebook 2) write emails 3) edit some documents 4) fiddle around with their digital photos 4) pirate mp3's and avi's 5) burn said pirated mp3's to a cd. Last I checked, the repositories has all of those bases covered. The last real frontier for most home users is hardcore PC gaming and that's moving over to consoles.

Re:Race to the bottom (2)

certain death (947081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544660)

This is my mantra! Use what you NEED to, not what someone ELSE tells you that you need to use. My Macbook is running a Linux firewall in a VM that I am behind at the moment, typing this on a Linux Mint peecee on a desk next to my Windows 7 Laptop connected to the corporate network.

Re:Race to the bottom (3, Informative)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543858)

Those people who are happy to pay $200 for a machine and spend the time getting it to run well with something like Linux even at the expense of a better experience which may cost 6x as much (Apple).

Speak for yourself. I use Linux because for me it is the better experience. Kind of like for Mac people, OSX is and for windows people, well, windows is. That's a very arrogant attitude you have there.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

tantaliz3 (1074234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544144)

It's not that Linux isn't a great OS (I use it for server-side stuff) but it certainly doesn't provide the polished overall experiences that Microsoft or Apple do.

That's an illusion. Look at all the crazy problems people have with PCs now. People are just afraid of change.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544790)

All that bling (what you call polish) gets on my nerves. Setting "Windows Classic" is the first thing I've done since XP times. Gnome3 and Unity are too blingy for me too so I run XFCE.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

LDoggg_ (659725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543556)

I wouldn't expect a 35 dollar tablet to have the hardware to be my main tablet, but probably a bunch of cool things you could do with ten of them networked in a building and mounted on walls or something.

Re:Race to the bottom (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543662)

It is actually not $35 because the company's is asking for $52 each to build it while the government pays the difference.

Also if this were a real retail product, there would be additional mark up etc making it more like a $75 item (number off my ass).

Re:Race to the bottom (2)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544788)

Then it's not very revolutionary because I can already run down to Big Lots and get a low quality $80 Android 2.2 tablet. I guess the revolutionary part is getting the government to heavily subsidize your product.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543694)

I'd fully expect it to be my main tablet. But I'd only use it to browse the web, and that I could do on a 486 DX2 66MHz. Of course the internet has changed and HD video and flash games, for instance, are off the table, but for IM, e-mail, Wikipedia et al? 366MHz should be enough for everyone.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544838)

Well, if you're willing to use lynx as your browser, mutt as your email client, and a command-line IM client, then perhaps you can get by with a 486/66. But on a 486, even a largish JPEG takes a noticeable time to render, which should make modern web pages (even those without flash or video) extremely painful.

The memory constraint is even worse. A typical 486 motherboard supports 16MB ~ 64MB, IIRC. You did read the Slashdot article about how an average web page is approaching 1MB [slashdot.org] , right? Do you have any idea how much memory that is going to take up on your 486 when it's fully parsed and rendered? Not counting the memory that is used by anything resembling a modern browser? I'll settle for a computer built in the last ten years, thank you very much.

Re:Race to the bottom (2)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543782)

My sister's boss got a 100$ digital picture frame (no battery, data is SD) for Christmas. I think a 35$ tablet is more than adequate to replace that.

Re:Race to the bottom (5, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543564)

It doesn't seem worth it for the compromises made

So if you're an Indian for whom an iPad costs the equivalent of a year's salary you should go without altogether, rather than have the best-in-breed? Sounds like a plan - Since I can't afford a Porsche I'll stick with walking.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543686)

So if you're an Indian for whom an iPad costs the equivalent of a year's salary you should go without altogether, rather than have the best-in-breed?

You're assuming that any device is necessarily better than no device. That's not a valid assumption. What any low-end device has to be better than is not nothing, but rather the low-tech alternatives (e.g. land line phones, libraries, talking to friends and neighbors, the phone book, etc). There have been many instances of devices that were sufficiently crappy that it was faster and easier to just ignore them and get your task done the old fashioned way.

Sounds like a plan - Since I can't afford a Porsche I'll stick with walking.

If the alternative was spending $1000 on a car that was terribly unreliable and left you stranded on a weekly basis, you'd likely find that walking was in fact a better idea. At least with walking you would know for sure when you would get to your destination, so you could plan out your day with some consistency.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543852)

Except its would be an issue about reliability (well, not too much) but about speed. A more accurate comparison would be a choice between a car that can only go 30 mph or a car that can go 200mph. If you are talking about tablets alone, the greatly reduce price may well worth the crappier experience. While tablet do currently share the same market place as computers and net-books, even the cheapest won't compete with this product at this price point. Raspberry Pi is the closest but it's more akin to a desktop as in it has no display. If you take reliability into issue, sure they may be higher hardware faults due to cheaper components, but even then, the reliability won't be that bad (look at cheap routers so many people use as an example). Also, at $35, it's almost becomes easily throw-away-able in that caring about it dying is limited at best. These prices also opens up uses on the hobby front much like the Raspberry Pi.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543914)

land line phones

Provided that pay phones still exist in a given part of the world in case you need urgent assistance. They have been disappearing in the United States, for example, because so many people own cell phones.

libraries

Which often lack the book you want, resulting in a week(s)-long wait for an interlibrary loan.

talking to friends and neighbors

And pay big bucks for long distance calls to friends and relatives who have moved away.

At least with walking you would know for sure when you would get to your destination

It has become more difficult with urban sprawl putting destinations two hours apart on foot (7 mi; 11 km) or more.

Re:Race to the bottom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543954)

You're assuming that any device is necessarily better than no device.

Yeah, I'm sure all of the poor brown people of the world are just waiting with baited breath for you to tell them if they should buy this fucking tablet or not. You fucking despicable arrogant condescending piece of shit. Fuck you in your fucking white ass neck.

Re:Race to the bottom (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543998)

> You're assuming that any device is necessarily better than no device.

Um, no. He's assuming that the Datawind tablet is better than not being able to use the applications the tablet provides. I know this is hard to understand, but if you need to run an application to help you plant your crops, a device that doesn't happen to have a trendy metal bezel and won't play Angry Birds is still better than not planting your crops.

It's not about the device, it's about access to content.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544348)

I know this is hard to understand, but if you need to run an application to help you plant your crops, a device that doesn't happen to have a trendy metal bezel and won't play Angry Birds is still better than not planting your crops.

I know this is hard to understand, but people already have an application that helps them plant their crops. They've had it for generations. It's called asking the local farmers how to do it.

That is what any new device has to be better than.

Re:Race to the bottom (4, Interesting)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544472)

Then... I have an idea -- why don't you go tell them that. Someone over there thinks there is a critical need for a device at that price point. It's easy for us first world residents to say they should be buying iPads instead without any appreciation at all for what life is like in that part of the world. The last time I was there, the houseboy slept on the floor in the hallway outside my hotel door, because it was more comfortable than his home. (I asked him.) Away from the cities, the great majority don't have access to any of the things you take for granted -- GPS, cell service, access to the internet. It's a totally different environment. *We* think you're a little nuts for camping outside the AT&T store in the rain waiting to replace your 4 with a 4s. People in *that* part of the world think you're batshit crazy.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38545014)

Then... I have an idea -- why don't you go tell them that.

They already know how to run their lives, thank you very much. They don't need me to tell them anything.

It's easy for us first world residents to say they should be buying iPads

I never said anything about anyone buying an iPad. Perhaps you are confusing me with another poster. What I said was, any electronic device that you want people to use (and pay money for) has to be better than the non-electronic methods they already have.... otherwise they won't use it. I don't understand why that is such a difficult concept to get across.

Re:Race to the bottom (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38545218)

I know this is hard to understand, but people already have an application that helps them plant their crops. They've had it for generations. It's called asking the local farmers how to do it.

I don't think you realize how much more productive the farmers in the US became after they were able to get their hands on the bulletins and advisory pamphlets that the Department of Agriculture put (and still puts) out. Or how much science goes into running a farm. How much information is required for successful farming.

Apparently, you're not familiar with the business of farming and how much of it depends on an up-to-the-minute awareness of market conditions, weather conditions. economic conditions, and forecasts. Even their bank balance.

Having access to a bit of technology that allows them access to a library of information and online data could definitely mean the difference between a farmer making it or failing utterly.

Why don't you let the farmers decide whether or not they need the trendy metal bezel and SIRI or not?

And yes, any device that allows farmers to ask farmers all over the country "how to do it" is better than having them asking only the local farmers. They could get information about pest control, get help with crop diseases and learn about various types of fertilizers. Indeed, the communications capabilities of a basic tablet could help them ask the local farmers and maybe participate in discussions with ALL the local farmers.

I guess you think they all just drive their tractors or mules and meet up down by the barn with hayseeds 'twixt their teeth to tell each other how to plant a potato.

I don't care if they're sustenance farmers in rural India or a Wisconsin dairy farmer with a few thousand heads. They're using tons of data and having access to that data in the form of a handheld tablet could be a real boon for them. Farmers here in the US are probably among the small businesses that make the greatest use of the Internet and personal computing technology. For some of those farmers, the Internet is a literal lifeline.

Re:Race to the bottom (3, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544982)

Now would be a good time for you to propose a low-tech alternative to a cheap tablet that holds 20,000 books about the sciences, history, the arts - that promotes literacy and hygiene and medicine. It should include instructions for various good practices such as sustainable agriculture, clean well digging and sanitary sewage practices, mortuary and food preparation practices among other things - in native language or with a suitable translation engine. All subjects introductory to advanced in math, chemistry, biology, mechanical and electrical engineering and history must be included. It must contain enough information to be able to uplift an entire village out of the stone age and into the space age - in a 7" tablet form factor that can be hidden, trekked across the desert and charged by laying it in the sun.

Ideally this low-tech solution should weigh less than half a kilogram and cost less than $35 - durable and disposable enough to smuggle into or airdrop from drones into places like southern China, North Korea, India, the Phillipines and Arkanas.

What did you have in mind?

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543940)

Because iPod is a new human right.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543942)

Well, for an Apple fanatic, that's a viable choice -- if you're unwilling to sell your kids and cow to buy an iPad 2, you just don't want a tablet bad enough.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544058)

They probably should go without. I don't have the disposable income to buy a private jet or a yacht so I don't own them.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

majmunsograne (886543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544722)

Exactly, you can't afford a private jet or a yacht, so you shouldn't buy that car that you can afford as it will never be as good as private jet. Just walk everywhere.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38545006)

Eww...buuuurn.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

dvdwholesale3 (2432850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544900)

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Re:Race to the bottom (2)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543578)

There is no consumer product that isn't part of that "race to the bottom". If you were willing to spend several million dollars on a tablet, I'm sure you could get something dramatically better than any tablet currently on the market. There is always a cost/quality trade off.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543734)

If you were willing to spend several million dollars on a tablet, I'm sure you could get something dramatically better than any tablet currently on the market.

I'm not sure that's true. The amount of R&D already sunk into, say, an iPad is already much more than several million dollars. Starting over from scratch and then spending less on R&D than Apple (et al) have already spent is a good way to get an expensive product, but not necessarily a better one.

Of course if you're willing to start with an already-developed product, I suppose you could always do this [wantchinatimes.com] ...

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543610)

A race to the bottom may result in a lower-quality experience, if the user happens to have a high expectation.

That says, we need to understand that the users of this $35 computer are from India, and although not everyone in India is poor, many of the Indians still don't get to own much to begin with.

One more important thing that will affect the experience thing is the software.

If the apps (including the OS) runs on the $35 computer are bloatwares, they will surely add to the frustration of the users.

So, in other words, the people who are behind this $35 computer project better come up with super-efficient apps in order to not let down the users too much.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543766)

And if this comes with super-efficient apps, Hell will freeze over.

Re:Race to the bottom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543680)

Hey, douchebag, everybody doesn't live in western europe or the US you fucking asshole. Just because they're brown and can't afford a fucking iToy doesn't mean they should be left out in the digital cold. What a fucking piece of shit you are. Fucking bastard. Eat shit and die motherfucker.

By the way, bonch, using poor people's circumstances to push your anti-Android agenda is a real bitch move. Pussy motherfucker.

Re:Race to the bottom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544176)

Amusingly, devices like this get figured into the amorphous statistic of "Android marketshare" in countless forum operating system arguments.

Wow, got anything to back that strawman up with, jackass? Last I checked, the official statistics for Android activations were coming from Andy Rubin. You know, the guy that fucking heads Android development. And he gets his statistics on new device activations. If you were to lump in the off-brand chinese stuff, Android market share would be much higher than is officially reported (and argued about). But, hey, don't let reality get in the way of a good Android bash.

Scale of Economics (2)

Niscenus (267969) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544296)

What you call, "The Race to the Bottom," is in fact an essential link to making the Scale of Economy as rapidly effective as possible. Were you under some delusion that the original Apple computer was cutting edge from the then modern mini-computer perspective? Did you think the Motorola flip phones of the mid-nineties were the best cellular communications device available? There is a significant advantage, even without government subsidies to make things affordable to the poorer portions of the spectrum, to creating a basic experience as cheaply as possible.

Today's pre-data-plan-required phones are five times more powerful than my first computer and a quarter the cost without adjusting for inflation, and that is available thanks to what you have titled, "Race to the bottom [sic]." Whatever moderator thought you were insightful must have the understanding of Economics and technology development cycles as 1/3rd of the US Congress.

Re:Race to the bottom (4, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544328)

For people with NO alternative experience, even weak devices can change their lives.

Would you rather have NO computer, or a Celeron 500 with 256MB RAM? Those specs don't even merit a dumpster dive nowadays in the US, but don't forget what you can do with one.

Re:Race to the bottom (2)

certain death (947081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544704)

Host an email server for 5000 heavy users - That's what! :o) Linux/Postfix/squirrelmail FTW!!!

Re:Race to the bottom (2)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544758)

It's an excellent proof of concept. How much of an IPad can we do for one tenth the price of an IPad? There's a lot of whinging on the net about bloated software and overpriced gadgets yet all too often we react with disdain when someone delivers a low priced example without the bloat. There could be a market for a billion cheap tablet computers in India and China alone. Hopefully other designers will follow suit and ask "How much of an IPad can we do for one fourth the price? Perhaps HP should have asked that question a couple of years ago.

Re:Race to the bottom (1)

jon3k (691256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544920)

Amusingly, devices like this get figured into the amorphous statistic of "Android marketshare" in countless forum operating system arguments.

Andy Rubin - Dec 20, 2011 - Public ...and for those wondering, we count each device only once (ie, we don't count re-sold devices), and "activations" means you go into a store, buy a device, put it on the network by subscribing to a wireless service.

World's cheapest tablet (1, Funny)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543488)

You mean slate and flint? Pen and paper? Or, I'll give you the more advanced, yet clumsy, Etch-A-Sketch.

Re:World's cheapest tablet (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543718)

You mean slate and flint? Pen and paper? Or, I'll give you the more advanced, yet clumsy, Etch-A-Sketch.

Pfft. Time to get medieval all up in this thang: blood and skin!

Re:World's cheapest tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544280)

Seriously, modded down to a 2! I was trying to be funny, yet giving a valid answer.

Re:World's cheapest tablet (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544354)

"I'll give you the more advanced, yet clumsy, Etch-A-Sketch."

Those make great gifts. We gave one to our Lieutenant as a laptop.
(He had a good sense of humor!)

This is great (2, Insightful)

Metricmouse (2532810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543550)

It it is imho a basic human right to compute, now a lot more people can.

Re:This is great (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543638)

It isn't a basic human right. Basic human rights are things like food, clothing, shelter and arguably health care. As long as those things are not being provided to a huge portion of the human race, it's a bit soon to talk about computing.

Even when those things are provided for, it's hard to argue that something like computing which isn't a necessity to live is a basic human right.

That being said, it is something of significance, without which one cannot hope to be fully engaged in society, at least not in the future as the technology makes its way to the 3rd world.

Basic human responsibilities (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543958)

You have enumerated the most basic human rights. So what are the basic human responsibilities? And doesn't one have the right to the means to such responsibilities?

it's hard to argue that something like computing which isn't a necessity to live is a basic human right.

If one of the basic human responsibilities is paying tax, doesn't one have a right to any computing device needed to file a tax return?

Re:Basic human responsibilities (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544518)

Sure, but you don't need a computer to do that. You can still fill it out long hand on paper and send it in. It's still quite a bit of a stretch to believe that computing is a basic human right.

Re:Basic human responsibilities (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544756)

In Brazil you can't.

366 MHz? (5, Funny)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543560)

Ha. You old people are so funny. You could never do anything real on a 366 MHz processor. I mean, like, the Android I got for christmas has at LEAST 1200 megahertzes. I bet they had at least that when they went to that moon or invented the awesome SR-71.

Who are these indian kids that would even get this. I would be soooo mad if someone got me this for christmas. Such a horrible gift. No one could ever even use it.

Let them have the original iPhone. [wikipedia.org]

Re:366 MHz? (0)

windcask (1795642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543614)

Ignoring the blatant trolling of your comment, I will tell you that I used a 33MHz processor in my first computer (a 386), and here's exactly what it couldn't do: Play video.

I could still get on the internet, play music, code, run Office, play some simpler games. Everything that's come since has just been a more complex refinement of the same stuff we've been doing since the beginning of GUI computing.

Re:366 MHz? (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543632)

Ignoring the blatant trolling of your comment

WHOOSH!

Re:366 MHz? (1)

Kurlon (130049) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543656)

I'd just like to point out that I had a 386sx-33, and I could in fact play video on it.

No, I couldn't stream netflix but many demos had video clips, as well as some early CD games.

Re:366 MHz? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543966)

I could still get on the internet, play music

By "music" do you mean recorded audio or just MIDIs with no lyrics?

Re:366 MHz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544808)

A 366 Mhz SOC would support the playback of encoded video and audio by means of hardware codecs included on the chip, not by means of the 366 Mhz core.

More Mhz means more power consumption. Your 1200 Mhz device will not have the same life on the same power source.

Re:366 MHz? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544044)

I don't think it was trolling, it was rather obvious sarcasm. "megahertzes" should have been a clue, also that the SR-71flew five years before Intel released the 4004.

(And didn't they use slide rules on the moon missions?)

Re:366 MHz? (2)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544748)

Yea judging from the other replies to the OP, everyone's sarcasm detectors are on the fritz tonight. Must be those sun storms from yesterday.

Re:366 MHz? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544398)

hm I had no issues playing back video on my 25mhz 386

Re:366 MHz? (3, Informative)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543658)

You make a good point. I always thought it rather a shame that the excellent GPE (for iPaq) never went anywhere - GPE (the gnome-palmtop-environment) ran really well on the 266 MHz CPUs of its day, and contained regular linux + busybox + X + Gtk + some applications. It fitted into 16 MB of flash and 32MB of RAM. Sadly nobody ever created the phone-peripheral to make this into a smartphone, and we ended up evolving backwards - making phones gradually more smart, instead of fitting a voice-modem to a pre-existing portable computer. As a result, Android is 7 years late, and an atrocious resource-hog. Meanwhile, we had a diversion for QTopia etc (on, for example, the Zaurus). Qt was so much slower than Gtk for embedded devices (though it was prettier if one prized beauty over speed), and the resulting systems were unusable.

Part of the problem with Android (and iPhone) is that they run a Java GUI rather than X/Gtk (thereby making them incompatible with all the old, and fast apps); the other problem is that most apps aren't GPL. The consequence of this is that there is no central package manager (with dependency resolution and shared libraries). So every single app has to bundle its own icons, its own copy of the libraries, and run in its own sandbox. This makes them far more bloated. I do like Android, but we could get at least 10x better performance out of it if the environment were better engineered.

You can easily demonstrate this to yourself: take a look at MenuetOS, which fits an OS + GUI + browser + media-player + editor + source-code on a single floppy!

Re:366 MHz? (-1)

SalsaDoom (14830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544628)

Your totally right!

GPE was actually really cool. The KDE-alike one was sweet too, IIRC it ran entirely on framebuffer. I don't recall it being slower than GPE though. I forget what it was called, someone here probably knows. Both where actually very useful and very cool. I fondly recall running kismet and such on my old ipaq back in the day. A few of its apps ended up on my n810, but that device never really got anywhere either.

In a perfect world, I'd just ditch android (which is ok... but..) and run Debian or something on the phone -- but with all the hardware and functionality working as well as it does on my desktop.

Re:366 MHz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544860)

>> Qt was so much slower than Gtk for embedded devices

Not in my experience.

>> Part of the problem with Android (and iPhone) is that they run a Java GUI rather than X/Gtk

Oh now I see, you don't know what you're talking about. The iPhone runs a Java GUI? Sure it does.

>> I do like Android, but we could get at least 10x better performance out of it if the environment were better engineered.

That number courtesy of your ass.

>> You can easily demonstrate this to yourself: take a look at MenuetOS, which fits an OS + GUI + browser + media-player + editor + source-code on a single floppy!

Yes, isn't it amazing how fast your operating system can be when you have no features to speak of?

Re:366 MHz? (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543692)

Excuse me. My palm worked reasonably with 16MHz. Ok that wasnt android, but if you restrict the appication to the things you really need it should be fine.

Re:366 MHz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544054)

I played the original Elite on a 2MHz BBC Micro. My Archimedes had a responsive GUI on an 8MHz ARM2. It's astonishing, with so much processing power available on even the crappiest device, just how poor the user experience can be.

Re:366 MHz? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38545214)

My palm usually works in the 1/2 to 2 Hz range, and I have no complaints, even fireworks at times.

Re:366 MHz? (5, Informative)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543896)

I'm Indian you know.. Perhaps it does not occur to you, but there are people in this country who earn less in a year than you'd pay for a decent meal at a two star restraunt. There are millions of such people in fact. To say that the government agencies work hard to play this figure down, would be a gross understatement. But even though I live in a fairly prosperous patch of the country, living here since I was born, I have actually met such people.

In a country of over a billion people, with barely 0.4% of the population sucking up 90% of the money that floats around, it is a spectacular vision of neglect and sadness.

About 35% of the population of India lives below the poverty line. FYI, the poverty line translates to $6 US a year!
Sure, for you it would feel like a kick in the stomach to receive a device such as this for christmas, but trust me, kids who get this device here would literally be willing to sell their kidneys for the opportunity to have one of them.

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying I love the device, just that there are loads of people who will. And not only will they love and enjoy it, they will actually get it to do stuff the rest of us never even dreamed possible on such a low-spec toy.

So if someone asks me to buy the device for myself, I'd tell them to go eat shit. But I would nevertheless be glad to see it go out into the market for those who would otherwise go completely deviceless. I think there's some honour in that somewhere, but I'm having trouble putting it into words. :) Forgive me.

Re:366 MHz? (1)

meowhous (1592411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544430)

I've never eaten at a two-star restaurant (nor wanted to), I've always lived in the U.S., and I personally think cheap gadgets are great even if you can afford better because they are less financially risky to experiment on. Eat shit or not--I don't care about your diet either--I'm not into $tatus.

Re:366 MHz? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38545160)

We hear you. You make great sense. Please ignore the jerks. The Internet is full of jerks but it has good people too. This stuff is coming and to these folks it will be free. It will hold enough information to help people live successful, healthy, educated lives without imposing any burden on them. They will not require power or wireless, or anything else. And there will be a LOT of them.

They will still have to work but if they will work together all other things are possible.

Re:366 MHz? (2)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543950)

Yeah, troll, but ... I was working on $40,000 workstations in the late 1970s and early 1980s - 768x1024 or 1280x1024 displays, both monochrome (bit-mapped) and color (pixel-mapped). The fastest one (see Perq [wikipedia.org] ) had a 1MHz CPU, processing on a 64-bit memory pipeline. It had a pretty good window manager (with a mouse that worked on a special tablet), a programmable microprogram store, and an OS written in a systems-capable variant of Pascal. (Perq didn't come out with color till later.)

The hard drive was IIRC up to 24 MB, and the memory was up to 2 MB.

All in all, performance of the user interface was as good as anything we have now, not counting compositing and other compute-intensive functions.

Much later (into the beginning of this century) I had a NextStation 25MHz. It was also pretty good as far as the user interface was concerned due to the use of the TI 9900 signal processor for drawing the display, but compiling anything significant could take all night. Ray tracing an image was a multiple-week project for anything complicated.

Re:366 MHz? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544122)

Pah. 16MHz [wikipedia.org] ought to be enough for anybody.

Reduce the price of tablets overall (2)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543594)

I think the benefit of such undertakings - creating the lowest costing item - is usually that some of the ideas that come out of it can be used by other companies to bring down the price of the device in general. Ofcourse, if they hit upon a radical way of making tablets cheaper yayy. Otherwise, if at least some of their ideas can incorporated to make things cheaper and more accessible to other parts of the world as well, then thats the biggest victory for them.

Yes please. (4, Interesting)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543626)

Lord knows I have a million and one uses for cheap tablets. I could stick them to the back of the seats in the car, to shut up the kids in a long road trip. Stick one to my dashboard and connect it to a bluetooth ODB-II dongle. I would stick one to the front of the fridge to turn it into a new smart fridge. Hell, duct tape them to anything to smarten it up.

It would also make a hella good universal remote for the lounge.

Problem is now that tablets are spiffy high price gadgets with premium hardware and spiffy graphics that cost the same as a entry level laptop. I'd have one tablet to do all those things and have to carry it with me. Things will change radically when tablets really do become as cheap as they should be. Cheap enough and we'll start covering surfaces with them.

All the interface animations and physical metaphor graphics (brushed metal, wood grain - Apple's microsoft bob era design philosophy), but after a while it's no benefit and a small waste of your time and battery power every time you watch a 500ms transition animation. They just get in the way and in the end I'd rather have more battery life/response/cheaper hardware.

I really cannot wait to get my hands on a useful $99 or less tablet that actually doesn't look good, is rugged and doesn't have fancy graphics.

Re:Yes please. (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543988)

A transition animation helps the brain (subconsciously) recognize how one piece of information on the screen relates to other pieces of information on the screen.

Re:Yes please. (-1)

SalsaDoom (14830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544662)

Back in the old days running multi-desktops on my linux machines I got confused about how information related to one screen or another all the time because it didn't have fancy animations.

Oh wait no I didn't.

This sounds like nonsense to me, an indicator telling me which screen I'm on is fine. Animations are fun and neat to look at it -- they make the experience a bit more pleasant but to suggest they actually make anyone more productive sounds like bogus research and marketing to me.

Re:Yes please. (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544452)

I really cannot wait to get my hands on a useful $99 or less tablet that actually doesn't look good, is rugged and doesn't have fancy graphics.

Assuming it even works in the first place.

Personally, I'm like you, I couldn't care less about the look, the icons, or the form factor either, but at the minimum I'd require a super cheap tablet that registers the touches properly.

I've tried cheap under-powered android-derived tablets before, and I can tell you, there is nothing more frustrating as a user than having to touch a screen three or four times instead of touching it only once because the touchscreen doesn't register touch inputs properly. And I do like the goal they have, but my hope is that bare-bones usability is not sacrificed for the goal they have, otherwise everyone (even the schools in India I'm sure) will be sending their tablets back to them demanding their money back.

Re:Yes please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544476)

I could stick them to the back of the seats in the car, to shut up the kids in a long road trip.

"This isn't the one my friend has! It doesn't have the games my friends have!" Sorry, gotta use a full price one.

Re:Yes please. (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544776)

It doesn't have the games my friends have!

"No, it doesn't. If you don't want it, just go without games."

Not all kids are spoiled.

Re:Yes please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544792)

http://www.frys.com/product/6792145?site=sa:Tablets%20&%20iPads%20Pod:Pod5

Re:Yes please. (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544988)

Don't forget you can stick one on the steering wheel.

Underlining the notion that time is worth nothing. (0)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543648)

At least, the time of Indian people. In other markets (Africa especially) I'd argue that it is much more important to provide schoolbooks, paper and pencils to pupils (and school-buildings that don't get swept away by large rain-falls and where pupils can learn without getting soaking wet from the rain).

Re:Underlining the notion that time is worth nothi (2)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544018)

If they can make the thing dirt and water resistant (almost essential, and ideally even waterproof, in the humid Indian climate), I would say it's a better solution for India than books and paper. Some of the OLPC ideas for making it cheap, robust and usable would be beneficial. Books may cost as much as several days pay for an average poor Indian just for the printing. If a single 'book' can be downloaded 100,000,000 times to simple tablets, it's much cheaper than printing the necessary books to educate 100,000,000 students for, say eight years. I would estimate that counting distribution and other factors, a tablet is probably cheaper after the first year.

All "pads" are at or around $100 to make... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543732)

Any engineering teams will tell you that most "pads" are around $100 to make (todays costs), including development, if you buy the components in lots of 1000 or 10,000. That goes for the "iPad" as well. This is the reason that everyone and their brother is trying to sell the things these days. There are huge sums of money to be made if you can just break into the market. The problem is, as always, marketing is not cheap, and the first to enter with a "good enough" product and marketing usually wins.

If you don't believe that "pads" can be made for around $100.00 USD, then do this... Just go into any "Home Depot" or "Lowes" home improvment store with $500 and see what you can get. How about "Walmart", "Target", or even "NewEgg". Compare some of the other products that you can get with $500.00 to the design and construction of what is inside an "iPad". Very few people actually open their products and look at the design and construction. But there are a great many things you can get for $500 that are: 1, more complex in both mechanical and electrical design, and 2, have a greater bulk bill of materials.

People are being taken to the cleaners with "pads" because they only see the "wow" factor. It's called "confusion marketing". If the consumer has no basis of comparison for what they are paying for, then you can charge them almost anything.

Re:All "pads" are at or around $100 to make... (0)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544260)

I can see why you didn't log in.

Can't tell if trolling or genuinely stupid.

Well played sir.

Cheap isnt always the best (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543810)

What you want is to be a reasonable price point. Just being the bottom feeder isn't always a good goal.

$60 'commercial' price point? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543836)

Odd, i just bought a 5" 'tablet' from China for that price. Seems this has already been done.

and .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543850)

so what ?

It Depends On Your Profit Margin and features (4, Informative)

LuxuryYacht (229372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543890)

Currently there are ARM Cortex A8 tablets with 7" LCD's using the $5.00 Allwinner A10 ARM soc on sale for ~120ea.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCvef9IYX0o [youtube.com]
http://tabletrepublic.com/forum/cortex-a8-allwinner-a10/ [tabletrepublic.com]

The actual cost to build them is around $60 ea

Too expensive... I prefer.. a rock tablet! (1)

DraconPern (521756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38544666)

I picked up a rock tablet for free! Sure it's kind of heavy, but It'll never need an upgrade. No need to reset and it'll never loose data. Performance is a bit slow but it multitasks (it's got two sides for joting down stuff).

Re:Too expensive... I prefer.. a rock tablet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544800)

I had one of those, but I was disappointed with the chips.

Soon cheaper than a pharmaceutical tablet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544760)

:)

Terrible company (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38544892)

I know people that have worked there in the past. Everyone quits, once they figure out that the place is a sweatshop. The main guy--Raja--specifically hires people that don't know what they're worth, usually from south america or china. Once they figure out that people in the tech industry in Canada don't need to work for peanuts, they go out and find jobs where they're paid twice to three times as much.

It's been about three years since I've talked to anyone that is or was working there, but it sounds like the cardboard boxes piled in the halls haven't gone anywhere.

(Posting anonymous, 'cause who needs the potential hassle of angry emails later. I know this makes my story hard to verify, but I wouldn't be posting if it otherwise. Why make stuff like this up?)

$35 tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38545188)

I would hazard to guess at $35, these are still going to be a tough sell in India.
90% of Indians still cannot afford this. The 10% who can will rather pay a little more for more powerful devices.

It's like the Tata Nano 'car' (more like a riding mower with a cabin)(another hot seller in India).
Most Indians still can't afford it. Those who can want something more upscale.

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