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Last updated: November 15, 2010 at 14:08 pm

iSlate – Another tablet for the masses?

If Nano turned the dream of owning an automobile across segments into a reality, the iSlate tablet PC powered by solar energy could do the same for the laptop segment.

Move over the Rs 1,600 laptop which was developed jointly by IISc, IITs and VIT. The iSlate – a solar powered tablet for the masses across India is the latest thing on the horizon. After the 1,600 laptop, it suddenly seems that the masses are the next big target market for tablet PCs.


iSlate is being developed by Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University in partnership with Rice University, USA. It is the brainchild of Krishna Palem of Rice University who dreams of providing low cost technology to the Indian households at very cheap prices but without compromising on quality. Chips which would have the ability to be used with very less electricity are currently under development. Ok so enough of the technological details.

The biggest question is “Will such a project succeed”?

Like the Rs 1,600 laptop, similar questions arise. It is one thing to dream of and develop such technologies with the help of famous institutes and completely another to actually deliver the results on the ground.

  • Reparability – Since the device is expected to be pretty cheap, there are a number of questions which rise about its reparability. Does it have any warranty? What all does the warranty entail? How easy / difficult is it to repair it? Can the parts / software be changed easily?

  • Availability – Will the device be available easily everywhere? Can it be shipped / transported across the country? Who will have the authority to sell it? Is it easily available or does one have to order it specially much before?

  • Practicality – Can the manufacturers stick to the costs estimated initially? Will it deliver the functions it was initially made for? This question is very important because today even Nano which was estimated to be just Rs 1 lakh is sold for around 1.5-1.8 lakhs. Therefore the difference between the practicality and reality shouldn’t be very different.

  • Specifications / Costs – What will the costs of the device be? Is it made for all the children in rural India or a specific segment? What will the specifications of the device be? 

One of the biggest questions is “How will it be given to the children?”

Though the idea is a really noble and interesting one, there are a lot of questions which need to be answered and tackled for it to succeed lest we see it going the Rs 1,600 laptop way.

Your views on this project?

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