Ever since Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal unveiled a prototype of Sakshat, the “$35-dollar Tablet,” in July last year, techies everywhere have been longing for it to be ready—and to see how it holds up against rivals at the far end of the price spectrum. But sadly, the tablet has kept a very low profile ever since.
True, there are periodic sightings of the device. In August, NDTV’s “Gadget Guru” program got a good look at the prototype (Watch the video; if you’re short on time, start watching nine minutes in). At the time, the device had a touchscreen (apparently a slightly sluggish one), a camera, a stylus, Wi-fi capability, and an Android operating system. It also had two USB ports, and slots for a SIM card and flash memory card.
People were so skeptical about the device that when asked to name one of the plus points of the gadget, NDTV tech reviewer Rajiv Makhni responded, first, “That it exists.”
And then there are the rumors of its sighting.
An Indian news wire report last month suggested that the device was already being used in an ongoing poverty census across the country.
And last week, a series of tech blogs, many of them citing a June 16 Times of India report, said that the tablet was finally beginning to ship on a mass scale this month, with 10,000 units set to go to the Indian Institute of Technology, Rajasthan.
Indranil Mukherjee/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
How will the elusive Sakshat compare to the iPad, above?
Mr. Sibal said on the NDTV program in August that in 2011 a million pieces would be delivered to students in the higher education system.
An official in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, who is dealing with the tablet project could not be reached for comment. An aide and another official dealing with learning through technology said they were not authorized to provide details about the device. The ministry hopes to use the tablet to further the aims of its e-learning portal with which the tablet shares its same name.
A spokeswoman for the ministry confirmed on Monday that some units were to be shipped for “geographic testing purposes,” but could not say when the product would be officially ready and unveiled. She suggested that was not likely to be before next month.
A spokesman for state-run Bharat Electronics Ltd. last month confirmed to India Real Time that it was manufacturing the tablet, but also declined to provide any details. (Some newspapers and blogs have reported that HCL Infosystems Ltd. is manufacturing the product, but a spokesman for the firm said that it was not involved.)
Of course, even when it’s ready, the device may never be available to the general public, as some gadget-lovers hope. The government plans to keep it mainly for the use of students at government institutions. And if it does ever become available for general retail, it wouldn’t be for $35.
“If it were to be in the retail market there’d be other added costs to it, which will bring the price up,” said Mr. Sibal on “Gadget Guru.” “If I supply this gadget to my own children in the universities, and that’s what it is for at the moment, then I will supply it at $35.”
—Nikita Garia contributed to this post.
Via: India Real Time