There have been talks that Ultra Cheap Aakash tablets may be shelved over the quality of 30,000 tablets provided by Datawind in the first batch. The general feedback from users, who have had a chance to use Aakash Tablet is that, it extremely under-powered and lacks features for it to be really useful. Even the feedback received by MHRD from Aakash users has been that it is will not be of too much of help unless it is upgraded with better specifications.
One has to note that the first order of 100,000 tablets was just a pilot carried out by MHRD to understand the utility of this low cost computing device to students and achieving the desired price point. MHRD had provided funds to IIT Rajasthan to carry out this pilot. However, given the negative feedback received in field testing, IIT Rajasthan has now asked the supplier Datawind to upgrade the tablet specs for the remaining 70,000 Aakash tablets.
Datawind on their part did not agree to upgrade the tablet specs unless they were given the extra cost, which IIT Rajasthan is not willing to offer.
Existing Aakash tablets run on Android 2.2 operating system, a seven-inch touchscreen, a 366 MHz processor, two USB ports, a multimedia player and 180 minutes of battery power. IIT Rajasthan (MHRD) is now looking at upgraded tablet with 3200 mAh battery instead of 2100 mAh, a better firmware (Android 2.3) and a 700 MHz Cortex A8 processor instead of the 366 MHz ARM 11 processor provided earlier.
Even though Datawind has incurred extra cost, they have agreed to provide upgraded specs for remaining 70,000 tablets. These upgraded tablets will start getting distributed by end of January 2012.
Sources inside of MHRD have mentioned that even though pilot for Aakash Tablet was delayed and ran into some issues, they are overwhelmed with the interest Aakash has generated among students and they are confident of its utility in field of Education. Hence, they will soon be floating a tender for more than a million of Tablets (to put it exactly in their words “millions of tablets”). The work is in process and it should take few months for it to come out.
Our Conclusion: There are definitely a fall-out between IIT Rajasthan and Datawind due to poor feedback that it has received. Also, it looks like IIT Rajasthan will not be mandated with the new requirement and MHRD will be doing this on its own.
One thing I am personally sure of – If Aakash can get better specs and if price-point remains under Rs. 3000/-, it will surely be of big hit with students.