Early take on India's $35 tablet: 'Fairly impressive'

A gadget show on Indian TV just featured an exclusive hands-on that could help dissipate some of the skepticism about the low-cost device.

The tablet is meant to give students cheap multimedia access. Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Remember that $35 tablet out of India we told you about last month? If you want to see the much-talked-about prototype in moving color, a gadget show on Indian television just featured an exclusive hands-on that could help dissipate some of the skepticism about the device.

"Everybody actually said, 'It cannot happen, a $35 tablet,' and not only does it exist, it works and it works brilliantly," said Rajiv Makhni, co-host of the show "Gadget Guru," who took the computer through its paces with show cohort Vikram Chandra and then talked all aspects of the gadget with Kapil Sibal, the country's Minister for Human Resource Development and the same guy who officially unveiled the super-cheap touch-screen device. Aimed at the country's students, it's being called India's answer to Nicholas Negroponte's famed OLPC laptop.

While originally presented as a Linux device, the prototype on the show runs on Android (and handles the operating system "fairly smoothly," the surprised Gurus say). It has a virtual keyboard, camera, full video capability, Wi-Fi for browsing that the Gurus found to be "simple and quick," an e-reader, and 2GB RAM. They say the touch screen is a bit slow to respond. All in all, though, they call it a "fairly impressive little package," particularly for the price, and a game changer for India and possibly beyond.

"We really didn't think it would be as functional as we have found it be," Chandra said.

The tablet is part of a larger initiative aimed at improving India's educational system through technology. It will originally be delivered by mid-2011, subsidized, to higher-education institutions for the estimated $35, Sibal said. (He acknowledged that it will surely cost more at retail.)

Fast-forward to about 2.5 minutes into the vid for more dish on the tablet's specs, as well as future plans for the gadget.

(Source: Engadget)

 

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