India to launch $45 tablet computer

NEW DELHI, October 4, 2011 (AFP) – India is set Wednesday to launch its long-awaited low-cost computer, a $45 tablet device designed to bring the information technology revolution to tens of millions of students. The touchscreen computer has a seven-inch (18-centimetre) screen, Wi-Fi Internet access, a media player and 180 minutes of battery power, according to official specifications.

Called the “Akash” (“Sky”), the locally-made device will be launched in New Delhi by Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal after years of delays.

“It will cost 2,200 rupees ($45) and the first batch of 500 tablets will be handed over to students after the release,” ministry spokeswoman Mamata Varma told AFP.

“Initially, 700 Akash tablets will be made every day and we expect the production to pick up when more companies join in to manufacture the device,” she said.

The commercial marketing strategy for the Akash remains unclear, but most of the computers are likely to be sold through universities and colleges rather than shops.

Canada-based Datawind, the current manufacturer, said the tablet used an Android 2.2 operating system, had video-conferencing capability, two USB ports and a 32GB e