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Datawind readies new Aakash tablet, but delays remain for India

by Doug Drinkwater

June 25 2012

The new Aakash tablet is set to come into production in August
The new Aakash tablet is set to come into production in August

India’s Aakash tablet may have been a disaster since its launch last year, but there is now hope in the news that OEM maker Datawind is preparing to provide the Indian government with an upgraded version of the $35 education tablet.

The new Aakash 2 is thought to have been in the works since April, but is finally set to reach the market bearing a faster 800MHz processor, a multi-touch capacitive touchscreen, a better 3-hour battery life and an upgraded operating system, which in this case is Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

The first Aakash 2s are now being tested, and manufacturing is scheduled to begin in July or August, according to the BBC.

The Aakash project was designed to give Indian students access to low-cost Android tablets but has encountered a number of difficulties in recent months. Datawind has faced criticism over the quality of the Aakash, became embroiled in a legal battle with one of its partners, and was as even thought to be in danger of losing the Aakash contract at one point.

For all of this, the worst part is that very few tablets have actually made their way into the hands of students in the country. In fact, just 546 Aakash tablets had been distributed to Indian students from fewer than 20 colleges thus far, with no tablets having been delivered since November, which is perhaps unsurprising seeing as Datawind is seeing awaiting payment for the project.

To add further perspective to those figures, 6,640 Aakash tablets had been delivered to the Indian government in May, even though the initial contract was for Datawind to deliver 100,000 tablets by March 31.

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