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January 13, 2012

LC valid, Aakash and UbiSlate shipments on track, says Datawind

The Aakash tablet was unveiled amidst pomp and splendor as the world's most affordable tablet. India is a price sensitive market, and the guys at Datawind tried to woo this sentiment with their affordable tech device. Although the key motive was to build a value for money, educational device, the product soon became a rage and geared up for commercial sale, way too quickly, we must say. Although the price, which is its key feature, undisputedly, managed to enthuse the nation. How Datawind managed to sum up a 7-inch tablet at an affordable price is still a mystery to some. A device featuring a 7-inch display (be it resistive), two USB ports and 3 hours of battery, to name a few, within a price that reads Rs. 2,500 seems a little unconvincing.

Visibly pleased students with the Aakash tablet at the launch

Visibly pleased students with the Aakash tablet at the launch


While Aakash received over 14 lakh bookings, no one really thought about whether it would serve the purpose with the help of the low-end specifications it carries or how it would fare in that price range. The price factor may have blurred the foresight to consider its technical aspect, but not everyone was blind to this. Some time back, IBN Live had ripped it apart to show what lies within the low cost tablet. Now, reports reveal that owing to the various consumer complaints, the Union Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has second thoughts about the letter of credit (LC) for Datawind. Moreover, there have been reports that defects may lead to eventual discontinuation of Aakash. If this is true, then what about the lakh pre-orders that the device has already received, especially those who’ve already paid the sum online? So, we tried to get in touch with Datawind.

Though Suneet Tuli wasnt available to comment, a Datawind representative brushed aside the reports that Union Resource Development (HRD) Ministry had second thoughts offering the letter of credit (LC) for Datawind. The spokesperson said that the letter of credit will be extended. In fact, the spokesperson went on to say that Datawind has suggested that the government consider an improved version of the original Aakash and the governement has been very supportive.

On asking about the consumer grievances over the shipped device, the spokesperson revealed that the specifications of the original Aakash were clearly stated, while the improved version of the Aakash was on the way. Those who didn’t want to wait for the improved version chose the original Aakash (30,000 units of which were put up for sale, and were sold out as soon as they were available). So, basically people have received the original Aakash and the improved versions haven’t started shipping. So can we expect that the commercial version of Aakash will not be surrounded by any such complaints?


According to IndiaToday, government plans to dump these defective Aakash tablets to the rural areas. Moreover, Sibal’s this idea could be taken further by Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd with a cheap 4G tablet at Rs. 3500 later this year. The pilot run of Aakash tablets didn’t turn out well. Reportedly, Datawind had refused to upgrade the other 70,000 Aakash tablets but it will now offer improved Aakash tablets at the same price. Reportedly, the HRD ministry is on the lookout for new vendors to sell the second batch of 70,000 improved tablets from DataWind which indicates that Datwind’s LC may not be extended.


The new set of improved Datawind tablets are yet to reach consumers. The devices are now going to be shipped in three batches in January, February and March, as seen on the website. The first batch will begin shipping somewhere around the end of January and the first week of February, said the spokesperson.

The device though in the limelight since its conception has lately been receiving some flak. There have been complaints, such as a consumer eager to unbox the Aakash for its first taste was disappointed as the device didn’t start at all, the customer service doesn’t respond effectively and so on.

Specs

Specs

The question is whether Datawind will replace the Aakash tablets with the newer versions, considering they are selling for the same price. Those who’ve already received the Aakash, do let us know what problems you are facing.

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