The news of the Rs 1500 (~ $ 35) laptop is making waves in India. Next year it is expected to become an ubiquitous equipment, strewn across the length and breadth of the country — every child under the Union government’s literacy programme clutching one. Provided all that is promised is delivered, on course on time. Also if issues of connectivity and mass production face no roadblocks.
Before I digress into more cynical questions, here are some essential details of the touchscreen device, being hailed as a cross between an I-Pad and a tablet PC. Designed by IIT techies from Kharagpur, Kanpur and Madras and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, it is a green product powered by a solar panel, has 2 GB RAM memory and no hard-drive but can be fitted with one via its USB port. It supports video-web conferencing facility, has a multimedia content viewer, a searchable Pdf reader, unzip tool, computing capabilities, printing support and a media player. Besides the inexpensive use of material, it will employ open-source technology to cut down costs.
It’s officially called a “low-cost computing-cum-access device” and will be manufactured in Taiwan as of now. Isn’t it the same one earlier announced to be priced at Rs 500 and manufactured at the government-owned Semiconductors Complex in Chandigarh? The government, of course, has promised to bring the price down gradually from Rs 1500 to Rs 500 with more innovation and private participation.
We will wait for 2011 to see how this pans out.