Aakash tablet: World's cheapest tablet clocks 1.4 million pre-orders

Aakash tablet: World's cheapest tablet clocks 1.4 million pre-orders

But travelers should wait for its sibling, the US$60 UbiSlate 7, due in March
Aakash tablet
The UbiSlate 7 touch screen tablet includes a 2GB memory card and has a battery life of three hours.

Still picking the sand out of iPad's last beach holiday adventure?

A sibling of the world's cheapest tablet computer -- the Aakash tablet, launched in India last year -- promises a cheaper, worry-free and therefore travel-friendly alternative for mobile computing.

Aakash -- "proudly made in India" -- and the base version (meant for students) were launched on October 5. It was dubbed the Aakash after the Hindi word for sky and has clocked 1.4 million orders since it was put up for online sale two weeks ago in India, manufacturers said on January 3.

London-based DataWind, a leading provider of wireless web access, will make a commercial variant of the Aakash available in India by March -- and this is the one you should wait for.

The variant will have a less romantic shelf name of UbiSlate 7. It's currently available for pre-order at www.aakashdatawind.com.

UbiSlate 7 costs US$60, or a maximum retail price of Rs 2,999, including all taxes and a 12-month warranty. 

Dubbed the computer version of the Tata Nano car, the 7-inch touch screen tablet promises a high definition video processor, Wi-Fi Internet and two full-sized USB ports.

The UbiSlate 7 offers the same features as the Aakash tablet: web browsing, multimedia games and also doubles up as an e-book reader and instant messenger through Nimbuzz Webchat, a popular free call and messaging app.

The only difference is that UbiSlate 7 will have a cellular mode for web access on-the-go, with Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) enabled.

Future products will include a mobile phone version of the device and a larger 10-inch screen.

"This is not only a concept that applies to India, but has ignited the imagination of governments around the world -- the Aakash tablet is proudly made in India, and is destined to revolutionize computing and Internet access for the world," said Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO, DataWind. 

Impressed? Now let's see if it doubles as a Frisbee.

Poorna Harjani is a graduate from the London School of Economics. Her nomadic tendencies have often led her to wake up at night, pack her signature red suitcase and book a trip to an exotic metropolis somewhere.

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