Everyone does remember the 35$ Tablet ( Rs. 1500) Kapil Sibal revealed about 2 months back? About almost everyone was so excited about it, though doubtful at first sight – it was true and everyone was lauding India’s technological achievement and praising the HRD Ministry of India.
But sadly, that’s just one part of the story – the 35$ Tablet is actually the Hivision SpeedPad, a chinese tablet worth $100 ( Rs. 4,641). Hivision actually revealed the SpeedPad at CeBIT 2010 held in Germany as world’s cheapest Android tablet. The specification and design of both the tablets are exactly same– surprsing no one noted this before.
The HRD Ministry was cleverly trying to buy these tablets in bulk, subsidize this 100$ tablet to 35$ and take all the credit for it – hoping no one would notice – doesn’t really sound like a good plan. Here’s the Press Release by HRD Ministry when the tablet was revealed:
The ministry started its efforts , subsequent to lukewarm response from known corporates in this sector, by holding discussions on this concept with a group of Professors / experts at IISc, Bangalore, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay. B.Tech and M.Tech students were guided to produce the mother board for such low cost devices with ample flexibility to change components. One mother board design was generated under Ministry’s guidance in the B.Tech project of a student at VIT, Vellore. The cost of bill of material worked to 47 $ at that point of time. The PCB of the mother board was got fabricated at IIT Kanpur. It could be seen that by customising the device to the needs of learners across the country, and utilizing the processor capabilities of processors suitable for the purpose, it was possible to substantially reduce the prices of such access-cum-computing devices. Then started a wave of collaboration with such interested partners.
It’s not clear yet what version of Android the “Indian” tablet runs, but if its same as Hivision’s then we don’t see any work by HRD Ministry here, except (probably) adding some applications for students – Even if the hardware was changed and optimized (though the specifications are exactly same), the credit should have been given to Hivision for manufacturing.
Though HCL was awarded a contract a few weeks back, as if they have to “Manufacture” it, but it was just for testing of tablets bought in bulk from Hivision.