After receiving flak for the very low-cost Aakash tablet, Datawind went ahead and won the bid for Aakash 2 as well. Surrounded by controversies and delays, the improved iteration of the original Aakash tablet has finally hit store shelves. Last month, President Pranab Mukherjee and Human Resources and Development (HRD) minister MM Pallam Raju launched the Aakash 2 tablet for students at a subsidised price of Rs. 1,130. In August, Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli had told Tech2 that the company would meet the contractual obligation of supplying 1 lakh tablets for MHRD. He had further divulged that the product is meant for the students and teachers’ training purpose only. However, as expected, the commercial version of the Aakash 2, dubbed Ubislate 7Ci, is also available at Rs. 4,499. Here's all you need to know about the Aakash 2.
The biggest thorn in the flesh for initial Aakash users was its 366MHz processor. Though Datawind later provided improved Aakash units with 700MHz processors, the user complaints did not seem to fade. The Aakash 2 shows a huge improvement here with its 1GHz Cortex A8 processor. The RAM is also double at 512MB.
The touchscreen display was yet another unbelievably annoying component of the original Aakash. The resistive touchscreen was almost unresponsive and just didn't let users navigate across the device. This time around, Datawind has taken care that the display, which forms the vital factor of touchscreen tablets, is smooth enough. You will find a 7-inch capacitive touchscreen display, but the resolution of 480 x 800 pixels, same as the previous Aakash, has been maintained.
The original Aakash ran on Android 2.2 Froyo and the next, slightly improved batch ran on the Android 2.3 Gingerbread platform. The Aakash 2 has improved on this front too; it now runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and we can only hope that Jelly Bean update will be made available.
The storage has also been spruced up for the Aakash 2 with 4GB memory. This is now twice the internal memory found in the original Aakash. The storage can be expanded further up to 32GB using the microSD card slot.
Connectivity and Camera
On the connectivity front, one will find Wi-Fi, support for VoIP calls and mini USB port. The Aakash 2 also sports a front-facing VGA camera.
The new Aakash also addresses the low battery life issues and promises 4 hours of battery life.
Datawind will be supplying 1 lakh Aakash 2 tablets for MHRD. Apparently, these Aakash 2 tablets will be made available to engineering college students and universities for starters, and will be subsequently distributed to others. Over the past many months, IIT Bombay has developed unique and compelling applications for engineering students on the Aakash 2 platform, which include 3D-modelling, C++ programming, remote and collaborative training applications, robotic control and live assessment tools. IIT Bombay has also partnered with the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to assist with the hardware testing and logistics.
The commercial version of the Aakash 2, the Ubislate 7Ci, is now available for order and Datawind claims that the device will reach the buyer in 48 hours after the payment. The Wi-Fi plus GPRS models, namely, 7C+ and 7CZ are also available for pre-order and will begin shipping within 6-8 weeks.
The Aakash 2 tablet for students will be made available at a subsidised price of just Rs. 1,130 while the commercial version of the Aakash 2 is priced at Rs. 4,499.