India’s subsidized Aakash tablets have been pretty conclusively proven to be horrible hardware, but that hasn’t stopped the Indian education ministry from throwing good money after bad. The Indian Telecom minister Kapil Sibal has just announced that the Aakash program would soon be launching a 4th Aakash tablet.
Specs are still vague on the Aakash 4 tablet, but we od know that it will be available in the market in around one and a half months for 3,999 rupees, or about $65 USD. Like the earlier Aakash tablets, this tablet will have a 7″ screen, 4GB of storage, card slot, camera, and Wifi. But unlike earlier Aakash models, the latest tablet is going to have “2G, 3G and 4G connectivity”.
No, I don’t know what that means, exactly. That’s what my source wrote, and it looks like they were quoting some ministry official (who probably didn’t know what he was talking about, either).
Part of the reason why no one knows what that means is that the actual status of the tablet is still up in the air. My source has indicated that tenders have been floated, which is another way of saying that the Indian govt hasn’t bought any tablets yet – they’re still waiting for companies to bid on the contract to supply the tablet.
Since there’s no actual tablet, today’s announcement is really more of a vaporware launch than anything. Given that the Aakash tablet is widely regarded as a joke in India, this should probably come as no surprise.
The first Aakash tablet was launched in late 2011, and it reportedly received 1.4 million orders in just a few months. Given the early user reviews I found at the time, I suspect that many of those tablets were quickly shipped right back to Datawind, the device maker who was under contract to produce the tablet.
That first Aakash tablet was sold to students for $35. The price was subsidized by the Indian govt, and when the tablet was released commercially in India it cost around $60 on the open market.
$60 is a cheap tablet, so much so that it is rarely worth buying. I would bet that the same can be said for the new model, too. With a subsidized price of $60 and a 3G chip, the rest of the tablet probably consists of such low quality components and cheap construction that the tablet is almost certainly going to underwhelm anyone who buys it.
I reviewed one of the Aakash tablets a couple weeks, and at $48 it was both the cheapest and the worst tablet I had ever used. That matches with other reviews I found online.