$99 HP Touchpad Sale: Forget $99, the 'Aakash' Tablet is Cheaper

If you are waiting for a $99 HP Touchpad, believing it to be the best-value tablet out there, think again. Today, India officially launched a tablet computer that is now being billed as the world's most inexpensive tablet.

The tablet computer's official name is "Aakash" (Sky) and is priced as low as $35 for school students, with retailers also selling the tablet at $60. This tablet is being sold at such a low price so India can expand its digital access and become equal with China and Brazil in internet connectivity.

The Indian government says they are planning on running a pilot run of 100,000 units by selling the devices to millions of students over the next few months. DataWind, the British-based company that developed the tablet, will officially launch the tablet later today for the expected price tag of 1,750 rupees.

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The "Aakash" tablet has been in development for two years. The Google Android operating system seen being used on Amazon's upcoming "Kindle Fire" tablet will also run the "Aakash". The tablet allows video conferencing and has two USB ports. It also has three-hours of battery life, but some users have already said that the processing speed is slow.

The tablet's slow speed has already raised concerns about it, though. Rajat Agrawal, executive editor at technology reviewers BGR India, gave his thoughts on under-priced tablets: "The thing with cheap tablets is most of them turn out to be unusable," said Rajat Agrawal, executive editor at technology reviewers BGR India. "They don't have a very good touch screen, and they are usually very slow."

Apple and Samsung's line of tablet computers come at a high price that are beyond the reach of India's poor- and middle-class population. Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and Information Technology in India, said "The rich have access to the digital world, the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide." He also went on to say that "Soon, a $35 computer will be made available to every child in school. The tablet shall help enhance the quality of learning of children."

Bharat Mehra, an expert on the use of communications technology for development, said that the budget tablet could be used to deliver distance learning in rural areas and among students in India.

India is now becoming the world's fastest growing market for mobile devices. 19 million subscribers are said to purchasing mobile phones every month.

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