Putting some perspective on the world’s cheapest ‘tablet’

If you are reading this, then the world’s cheapest tablet, Aakash, isn’t meant for you. You were not the target audience when Aakash was conceived, designed and executed. The target audience was different. Aakash was supposed to be an entry point in India for students to get access to the Internet.

The critics around the world had their share of opinions. Everybody who has reviewed or commented about Aakash has made one of the four classic mistakes outlined below.

Comparing with iPad

India’s HRD never called it a tablet. It’s is a low-cost Access device. In fact they have a nice acronym for it, LCAD. I think someone from the ministry got excited about the launch and called it a tablet. When that happens, you know what time it is, yeah iPad time.

Indian students pose with the supercheap 'Aakash' Tablet computers which they received during its launch in New Delhi, India. Pic: AP.

That’s when the HRD and everyone else in the room missed the plot. Comparing a device which costs less than $60 with a device which costs north of $600 is unjust. You wouldn’t compare a Tata Nano with a BMW would you?

The wireless keyboard that Apple sells as an accessory with iPad costs almost as much as an Aakash.

Progress vs perfection

I have watched the launch and one clear thread has emerged. HRD has admitted that it’s not a perfect device and they are working towards meeting the audacious goal of a $10 computing device. They are open to ideas, revolutionary ones, and funding will be provided.

The 100,000 tablets provided are for field trial where the feedback will be received and hopefully incorporated in the next product cycle. If I had to choose between progress and perfection, I will always go with progress.

Blaming the hardware

Aakash runs on a very slow processor and RAM by today’s standards. That means the latest software can’t run all that fast on Aakash. Now whose problem is that? Isn’t the software equally to blame? People seem to have forgotten the art of writing programs which can run on slow and older hardware.

Memory prices have dropped significantly and there is no real incentive to build programs for slower hardware. The apps and the software have grown fatter with huge memory requirements.

Now a Pakistani company called Pepper.pk is working with Aakash’s team to port some apps.


Is this a cheap trick on the part of the government? I don’t think so, because nobody really cares if their kid gets a tablet or not. A simple color television may have secured more votes, if that’s what the current government is trying to achieve with Aakash. Yes Sibal can write this in his appraisal but is this the one that’s going to get him the votes? I hardly think so.

All the while, the wrong demographic was reviewing the tablet.

Since you came this far, I recommend this review which happens to be the only positive one I have found.