Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for human resource development (HRD) has recently announced the laptop, which is even cheaper than a mobile phone. The laptop has been specially designed keeping the students and teachers in mind, and has been brought out with a price tag of just Rs.1500/- , that is about $35. The laptop has been provided with all the functions which a normal laptop has, but it has lesser speed and memory.
The laptop is a touch-screen access cum computing device and is expected to arrive at the Indian market by the early phase of the year 2011. The operating system provided along with it is Linux OS, with multimedia content viewer (pdf, docx, ods, adp, xls, jpeg, gif,png, bmp, odt, zip, AVCHD, AVI, AC3), and the other computing capabilities such as the Open Office, SciLab for printing support, USB port, video-web conferencing facility, searchable Pdf reader, unzip tool for unzipping files etc. The media player provided along with it is capable of playing streamed as well as stored media files.
The laptop is even Wi-Fi enabled, and is provided with remote device management capability and solar panel. “We have made the breakthrough and are now ready to capture the market. The price of these devices will be around $35 per piece. We expect it to go down to $20-$10,” said Sibal. In the first phase, the government is even planning to place orders for about 10 lakh such laptops mainly for the college students.
But the government has not decided anything on the distribution aspect of such laptops, thus the students might as well have to wait for the same. This new and affordable laptop is just an upgraded version of the $10 laptop which had to be used with a projector, launched in Tirupati in last February. But, however the device failed to reach the market as its cost rose to $54 in quite a less time.
An MHRD official has revealed that in the past one year, quite a number of IITs had made progress on such devices. MHRD has even held discussions on the concept with experts from IIT Kanpur, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IIT Kharagpur and IISc Bangalore. Both B-Tech and M-Tech students were even guided to produce the motherboard for such laptops at low cost, which would have the flexibility to change the inner components.
One motherboard design was generated under MHRD’s guidance in the B-Tech project of a student from VIT, Vellore. The cost of the material used in the laptop amounted to up to $47, but this was brought down massively by an exercise, which even included a 50% government subsidy. ”Initially manufacturing might be done in Taiwan or some other place but eventually it will be done in India,” Sibal said.
The $35 price, he said, is inclusive of cost of manufacturing abroad.The cost of the solar panel has not been considered into the price yet, and the ministry is trying to talk to a company in bringing down the cost of the solar panels. But, one limitation is that the device is not accompanied by a hard drive.