Home » Business » India » Indian HR Ministry brings $35 low cost computing device to reality – Prices to drop further [Exclusive pictures]
Last updated: July 23, 2010 at 21:15 pm

Indian HR Ministry brings $35 low cost computing device to reality – Prices to drop further [Exclusive pictures]

This is big news – Finally a low-cost computing-cum-access device has been unveiled by HRD minister Shri. Kapil Sibal. The price is this device is expected to be around $35. However, HR ministry is aiming at bringing down the cost of this device to $20 and ultimately to $10. IIT’s and other Technical Institutions are setting up research teams to cover wide range of issues and capability enhancements to achieve the ultimate goal of bringing down the the cost of this device to $10.

I, personally am quite proud to see this happen, and I will tell you the reason why – While the private entities and corporates had given up on this idea, professors and experts from IISc & IIT’s went ahead and devised this concept. While B.tech & M.Tech students were guided to produce the motherboard and other key components.

Even though this device has been unveiled today, the development & research is currently on-going on at various different levels connected with HR Ministry. The ministry is quite confident of bringing down the cost of this device further.

Ultimately the goal of such devices is to spread education in Rural India, by offering such devices with educational courses / materials embedded inside them.

Here are some images that will give you a sneak peek at how this device will look:



Ultimately, HR ministry wants following minimum features & specifications in the said device

Minimum Functionalities expected:-

  1. Support for video web Conferencing facility
  2. Multimedia content viewer for example .pdf, docx, .ods, adp, .doc, .xls, .jpeg, .gif, .png, .bmp, .odt, .zip, AVCHD, AVI, AC3, etc.
  3. Searchable Pdf reader
  4. Unzip tool for unzipping zip files.
  5. Possibility of installing suitable firmware upgradation.
  6. Computing capabilities such as Open Office , SciLab , cups (for printing support)
  7. Media player capable of playing streamed as well as stored media files.
  8. Internet browsing with flash plug-in, JavaScript, pdf plug-in java.
  9. Wireless communication for Audio/video I/O.
  10. Cloud computing option.
  11. Remote device management capability.
  12. Multimedia input output interface option (for allowing DTV, IPTv, DTH, streaming etc.)

Press Release by Indian HR Ministry


I was talking to few people in MHRD couple of months back, and they had hinted to me on this – I never thought it would actually see the light of day, however, I am quite delighted to see this!

Cheers to Indian HR ministry !


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  • Very nice. Most entities would build an affordable device only to succumb later to greed and sell them at much higher prices but this is a resounding example to governments and NGO across the globe wishing to advance knowledge management amidst challenging environments. Cheers India.

  • Though the announcement was made about the 35$ laptop long ago we have not yet seen it anywhere neither in shops nor in any school, where is this available and who can buy it. is it for one and all or only for few privileged ones we not yet seen any one really possessing and using it hope to it in shops soon

  • Government has taken a bold decision to sell these prototypes at low price mainly to aware rural areas about internet and its usage and also for students who can’t afford to buy laptops, If government could really make this happen then there will be a remarkable change in way we use internet.

  • Im looking to contact Mr Minister Kapil Sibal regarding these low cost noteooks.Can you assist as there are oppertunities for Africa that can be explored Regards, Ismail

  • It sounds a little unrealistic. However it would be great if the government decides to get this thing rolling and without any additional hidden costs attached to it. Also issues like connectivity are addressed.

  • Guys, I agree that its easy to think of this as BS and not practical. But, what is impossible is either going to be “utterly stupid” if they fail, and “brilliant success” if they achieve their goals. May time tell us which one it is. Also, when $35 for this device sounds cheap, it should be based on certain volume. Is the volume for 1Billion population or 500 Mn or what? It just can be achieved for the 10 odd research models. Where did the parts come from and what level of R&D subsidy/ govt. funding go into this project? One thing I noticed is that there seems to be actually 2 different devices! See for yourself. In the 2 images posted by Arun above the device look different, and then check these ones – http://arabnews.com/lifestyle/science_technology/article88762.ece and http://www.popfi.com/2010/07/23/india-unveils-35-laptop/ One device looks bigger than the other, has 3 buttons/dial and speaker while the other looks like an iPad clone just little more rectangular. Is this optical illusion? :-)

    • Madhav, I have spoken to people who are holding it and yes, there are more than 2-3 protoypes that have been developed, so they are not all the same. Infact, like I mentioned in the article, the development of this is an ongoing effort and this device will get better over a period of time. Infact, the 2nd picture has both shown differently side-by-side. bith are different. What the MHRD people want to show is that this low cost device is possible and they have done it already. They have a challenge to take the cost down further to $20 and ultimately to $10.

  • It might sound a little unrealistic and would not make sense… However it would be great if the government decides to get this thing assembled within India and not in china. This can not only help boost the education levels in India but also help increase India’s manufacturing capabilities of high-tech products.

    • agree with that… the govt. shud try to boost up the industrial capabilities of the country rather than trying to use IIT’s work to show that ‘they’ are doing some good. The govt. neither cares about the research institutes nor children’s education , but just their own popularity.

  • Did anyone notice the irony of the two middle aged guys without a clue standing in front and behind piles and piles of paper? THESE guys are going to build something that is going to challenge Apple, Google, Samsung and ASUS? I can bet you that the “junior” minions of these bureaucrats created these prototypes for their “bosses” – so that these guys can take all the credit. The Indian government and the bureaucrats have killed millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs by spending millions of dollars into programs that it has no business to be in. Instead of opening up the import policy and allowing businesses to innovate, the Indian government systematically kills businesses with its tax policy, corruption and class politics. The US and China have nothing to be afraid of from India – India will forever be the “tech-support” to the innovators of the rest of the world – and it has noone but itself to blame. A disappointed Indian.

  • Its still early to put speculations, but every bit of this idea means a lot more connectivity, so is the cloud really a future for Indian students or another thing for them to worry apart from their heavy bags. Its possibly not realistic to point the profitability, but $35 means about 1600 INR its way more affordable then a $500+ (USA), with a relatively low standard of living here. If a kid in India can be as connected as anyone else in the world. We all must welcome the move from Indian Government.

  • Does anyone apart from me that we have a bad habit of expecting the whole world for a penny? See its spread even to the govt.

    • I completely agree. We settle for crap in our daily lives and even expect the government to give us that crap. Lets check on this pie in the sky in about a year. ViNo

  • this $35 number is anywhere but close… for instance, this number does not include the solar panel costs, which is going to be significant… and also the BOM cost calculation is based on the assumption that this will sell 110 mn in numbers (for all students of Sarva Shikshya Abhiyan)… whereas in reality, that huge sales number cannot be achieved by a single product… so, take $35 with a pinch of salt for now…

  • Can someone please report on the specifications of this device, namely: 1) OS and other preloaded software specification 2) Processor Specification 3) Memory Specification 4) Hard Drive Specification 5) Display Specifications Without this kind of information, this news report and further deliberation on it is useless.

    • 1) the os is a touch-screen based linux distro 2) Unknown 3) 2 GB of ram 4) no hard drive, memory card/usb stick instead 5) 7 or 9 inch, 18 or 23 cm

  • I wont believe a word of it. It is either wishful thinking or it is a way to pressurize corporates to a device at such a low price. “by utilizing processor capabilities of processors suitable for the purpose, it was possible to substantially reduce the price..” is such bunk. Hullo? Did they mean that over the last 40yrs, devices have not used the capabilities of their processors? or used unsuitable processors? Those specifications look like they came from a $499 iPad. I can see that the HRDM is going to have egg on his face as students around the country ask him to sell them his products. My Source: I’m no hardware expert, but I’ve been involved in enough base of the pyramid technology devices to know that at this time, a $35 tablet (different from a laptop) is not going to come around the corner in a hurry.

  • Is it based on the Freescale i.MX233 on that Android solution made by AllGo systems that I filmed here? http://armdevices.net/2010/06/23/15-android-computer-presented-by-allgo-systems/ That is great and awesome, but I don’t think they need to position it as a competitor of OLPC, OLPC is interested in all designs that can lower the price of technology that can be used in any classrooms. The $75 OLPC XO-3 and $125 XO-1.75 are based on more powerful processors, with capacitive touch screens, sunlight readable Pixel Qi screens, technologies which are important for reading and for low power usage and 50 hour battery runtimes! In any ways, I really hope India is going to just decide politically to give one laptop to every child, be them with touch screens or not, preferably with reflective capable screens that can be used for reading. The screen is a very important component, maybe the most important component to make this a revolutionizing success in the whole of India to hundreds of millions of children.

  • I hope it is for real and works as they claim. Has anyone used this? BTW, I hope that they would do something similar for broadband.

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