Datawind’s mission to deliver ultra-cheap tablets for everyone, no matter their income, is finally headed to the U.S.
Today the Canadian company announced that it will offer three of its 7-inch Android UbiSlate tablets in the United States, with the cheapest (the UbiSlate 7ci) running for a mere $38.
The news follows the company’s launch of the $35 Aakash2 tablet (which shares the UbiSlate’s hardware) last year in India. It’s been two years since Datawind and India first announced the Aakash tablet project, and even though the first version of that tablet had a plethora of issues (it was slow and unresponsive, for one), the upgraded hardware in the Aakash2 proved that an ultracheap tablet could actually be usable.
The UbiSlate 7ci’s specs — a 1.2 gigahertz dual-core processor, only 8 gigabytes of storage — sound puny compared to most tablets, even Google’s cheap Nexus 7. But, in this case, having specs that are merely “good enough” is essential for reaching that $38 price.
Datawind says it’s focusing on the 20 percent of Americans who currently don’t have any Internet access. Ultra-cheap tablets like the UbiSlate could also be ideal for classrooms that can’t afford to shell out $200 per device for current low-end tablets.
While the $38 UbiSlate relies on Wi-Fi for web access, Datawind will also offer a year of mobile connectivity with a slightly upgraded model, the UbiSlate 7C+, for $100 (without mobile web, it will cost $80). A higher-end UbiSlate 3G7 model will cost $150 with a year of Internet access, or $130 on its own. Both tablets will push mobile data through Datawind’s servers to speed up load times.
Speaking to the Washington Post, Datawind CEO Suneel Sing Tuli laid out an even more ambitious goal of producing a $20 tablet in the next two years. That may seem impossible today, but then again, so did the idea of a $35 tablet a few years ago.
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