A new version of the controversial $35 Aakash tablet is set for release in a few weeks sporting both new hardware and, a bit later, new software
The Aakash 2 will have a 7-inch capacitive, multitouch screen, faster single-core 800 MHz ARM processor and will be available a bit later with the latest version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich or Android 4.0, according to a report by the IDG News Service. The original Aakash tablet had a 7-inch resistive touchscreen, Android 2.2 and a slower 366MHz processor based on an older ARM architecture. But otherwise, the Aakash 2 will have the same 256MB of RAM and 2GB flash storage of the current model.
The first shipments of the new tablet will include Android 2.3, but Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli, told the tech newswire it will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 about 6 to 8 weeks after the first deliveries in two to three weeks. Datawind designed the Aakash in collaboration with the Indian government.
The upgrade, particularly on the hardware side, should help address criticism that the current version of the Aakash is slow, though its unclear whether the new version will quiet other complaints noted by reviewers that the tablet’s overall product quality is low.
Meanwhile, the Aakash may no longer have complete bragging rights to being the world’s cheapest tablet. The $35 price of the Aakash includes a subsidy by the government in India, though it would still cost well under $100 elsewhere. Earlier this month the ESER A10, a 7-inch, resistive screen Android tablet, was announced in China selling for $51.
Datawind is far from alone in making a staggered transition to Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), the first version of Google’s mobile OS designed for either smartphones or tablets. Most tablet vendors are still shipping with earlier versions of ICS while they work through the testing and implementation steps necessary to make sure it’s ready for their devices. But to the extent vendors are able to stick with their stated roadmaps, we should see a significant migration to ICS, both in new devices and upgrades, in the next month.