Aakash 4 tablet production to start in January, says Kapil Sibal

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Production of the next version of world’s ‘cheapest tablet PC,’ called Aakash 4, will start in January, and the price of the devices are expected to come down further by Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,500 in a year, telecom minister Kapil Sibal said today.

“Aakash 4 has now been tendered for manufacturing. From January 2014, Aakash 4 which is like any other modern tablet in the country, is going to be manufactured by several players. [As many as] 18 people have actually participated in the tender,” Sibal said while addressing students at Modern School in New Delhi.

The Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals, which procures products for government supplies, has floated a tender for the Aakash 4 tablet, for which bids will be opened on Friday.

The minister said that after 5 to 7 years, enough Aakash devices will be available for every school-going child in the country.

Sibal said he expects the price of the low-cost tablet to further fall by about Rs. 1,000 next year.

“The cost of that (Aakash tablet) at the moment we say is Rs. 2,500 but it is going to come down to Rs. 1,500,” he said.

Aakash 4 will have a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, which will be also scratch resistant. The tablet will support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity, come with 4GB of built-in storage, external memory card slot with storage capacity of up to 32GB, and front camera.

The minister said that modern technology and devices-like Aakash will change the way students will learn in coming days.

“… No longer is the teacher the sole repository of knowledge. Children get knowledge from all sorts of network site,” Sibal said.

Citing transformation in education sector, the minister touched upon concept of ‘meta-university’ floated by him when he was human resource and development minister.

“The concept [of meta-university] is 3-4 universities can get together, and actually create a course which is not provided by syllabi of any particular university…this will happen in years to come not only between universities but between nations and universities around world,” Sibal said.

He said students will be able to combine two courses and get degrees from respective universities.

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