Datawind is bringing three commercial “UbiSlate” versions of its 7-inch, Android 4.0 Aakash tablets to the U.S., including a model that starts at $38.
Datawind’s three new UbiSlate tablets are based on the Aakash 2 educational tablet that shipped in India in early 2012, as well as an upcoming Aakash 3 model. The Aakash 2 was hailed as the world’s cheapest tablet, at about $40, and was available to schoolchildren at lower prices thanks to subsidization by the Indian school system. In India, sales of the Aakash 2 overtook the iPad according to U.K.-based Datawind.
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Now on sale in the U.K. and U.S., the trio of 7-inch tablets starts with the WiFi-only, 1GHz Cortex-A8-based UbiSlate 7Ci, based on the Aakash 2. Even with an additional $10 for shipping and handling, bringing the price up to $48, it’s one of the most affordable tablets available in the U.S., if not the most affordable. The low-cost leader on Amazon, for example, is the $40 Maylong Android Tablet, which has a 1.2GHz processor, Android 4.0, and a similar 7-inch capacitive touchscreen, but is listed as “refurbished.” There’s a wide range of 7-inch Android tablets in the $50 to $60 range.
The other two UbiSlate tablets have the same 7-inch screen sizes, but Datawind calls them “phablets” due to their inclusion of cellular radios and a SIM slot. The Cortex-A8-based, 2.5G GSM Edge ready UbiSlate 7C+, based on the Aakash 3, goes for $100 while the $150 UbiSlate 3G7 advances to a dual-core, 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 processor, a 3G radio, and a higher resolution 1024 x 600-pixel display.
All three tablets offer multi-touch capacitive touchscreens, although the 7Ci and 7C+ are limited to 800 x 480 pixels. Common features of all three tablets include a modest 512MB RAM, plus 4GB of NAND flash, and a microSD slot supporting up to 32GB. They all offer WiFi, audio jacks, a mini- or micro-USB port, and front-facing VGA cameras.
UbiSlate 7C+ (left) and rear view of UbiSlate 3G7, showing camera
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The UbiSlate 3G7 model adds Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, a rear-facing 2-megapixel camera, a microphone, and a speaker. It’s the only model with battery life claim, although at three hours, you wonder why they bothered to mention it. Both the Cortex-A8-based UbiSlate 7C+ and dual-core 3G7 are claimed to support HD playback, although one would expect the 3G7 to play it better.
The two cellular phablet models offer one year of free, unlimited Internet and a bundled SIM card from mobile virtual network operator Red Pocket Mobile, with optional voice plans. Datawind ‘s Ubisurfer browser and Ubimail mail program, which include Datawind’s patented compression scheme designed for GPRS networks, offer web delivery acceleration ranging from 10x to 30x, claims the company.
Specifications listed for the three UbiSlate tablets available in the U.S. include:
- Processor – 1GHz Cortex-A8 (7Ci and 7C+); 1.2GHz dual-core Cortex-A7 (3G7)
- 512MB RAM
- 4GB flash
- MicroSD slot for up to 32GB
- 7-inch multi-touch projective capacitive touchscreens
- 800 x 480 resolution (7Ci and 7C+)
- 1024 x 600 resolution (3G7 only)
- Bluetooth 2.1 (3G7 only)
- GPRS Edge (7C+ and 3G7)
- 3G HDSPA/GSM/WCDMA/UMTS (3G7 only)
- SIM slot with Red Pocket Mobile 1-year unlimited data card
- Sensors — G-sensor; GPS (3G7 only)
- Camera — 0.3-megapixel front-facing VGA cam; 2-megapixel rear-facing camera (3G7 only)
- Other I/O:
- Mini-USB (7Ci and 7C+)
- Micro-USB 2.0 (3G7 only)
- 3.5mm audio jack
- Other features — Pre-installed apps for education, entertainment, gaming, and productivity; 1W speaker (3G7 only); microphone (3G7 only)
- Battery — Yes (3-hour claim on 3G7)
- Operating system — Android 4.0.3; Android 4.1 (3G7 only)
“Using our patented technology, we’re able to eliminate the need for contracts and monthly fees, making it easy to get on the internet, right out of the box,” stated Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli.
The UbiSlate tablets are available now for sale at Datawind’s website. Prices are $38 for the UbiSlate7Ci, $100 for the UbiSlate 7C+, and $150 for the UbiSlate 3G7. Add $10 for shipping and handling. Some marketing materials posted by Datawind suggests that the 7Ci and 3G7 are also available without the one year of free Internet access, for $20 less per tablet, but this option does not appear to be available at the DataWind UbiSlate store.