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DataWind launches Aakash 2; to be sold to students for less than Rs 1,200

Late last year, Canadian firm DataWind Ltd, in partnership with IIT Rajasthan, introduced the world's cheapest tablet called Aakash for Rs 2,500. The project came under the Human Resources & Development Ministry's National Mission on Education but turned out to be a major flop show. However, the company seems to have learnt from its mistakes and has now launched a new version called Aakash 2.

The tablet was formally launched by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Nov 11. The new version has been designed and developed by DataWind and during the first phase, the company will supply one lakh units to IIT Bombay, who will then distribute those to engineering students. While DataWind will sell the tablet to the Human Resources & Development Ministry for Rs 2,263 a unit, the government will subsidise it and students can buy it for as low as Rs 1,130.

IIT Bombay also claims that it has developed new apps for the Aakash 2 platform, especially for engineering students, including 3D modelling, C++ programming, remote and collaborative training apps, robotic control and live assessment tools. Let us have a look at the specifications of the device.

Aakash 2 has a 7 inch capacitive touch screen display (800×480 pixel resolution) and runs on Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system. It is powered by a 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor, has 512 MB of RAM and comes with 4 GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32 GB with a microSD card. On the connectivity front, the tablet has Wi-Fi and also comes with micro USB ports.

In comparison, the original Aakash tablet is a 7 inch device (but with resistive touch screen) and runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) OS. It is powered by a 366 MHz Connexant processor, has 256 MB of RAM and comes with 2 GB of internal storage, expandable up to 32 GB. The device has Wi-Fi and supports optional 3G modems. It also comes with two USB ports.

While Aakash 2 is meant for the student community (just like the original Aakash), the commercial version of the tablet, branded as UbiSlate 7Ci, is available at Rs 4,499 on DataWind's website. You can pre-book the tablet here (that is, if you are willing to risk it once again). Interestingly, the company has provided all three modes of payment on the site (online payment, cheque/demand draft and cash on delivery), but the price and the delivery time changes accordingly.

If you are paying online, delivery will take one week; for cheque/demand draft, it will be 3-4 weeks and for COD, it will be 8-12 weeks (in addition to a price bump of Rs 200 as shipping charges).

So what is your take on the new device? Will it suffer the same fate as its predecessor or will the company be second time lucky? Share your comments below.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)

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