The e-learning tablet market is a young market in its nascent stages. Initially fuelled by the government’s ambitious Aakash project, which resulted in Datawind's dud of the Aakash tablet, the e-learning tablet market is all set to see a world of competition. The Aakash 2, which will be manufactured by Datawind (again) and tested by IIT Bombay before it reaches students, will see some nifty entrants intent on making its life hard.
E-learning tablets are specially crafted with students in mind. These tablets have to be light weight, should have expandable storage capacity, a decent battery life and an affordable price tag. But what takes centre stage is the e-learning content integration - the most useful and handy feature for students. Considering the e-learning content and the overall specifications, we’ve picked two existing tablets, the Micromax Funbook and the HCL MyEduTab, that are already ready to compete with the Aakash 2, which will possibly be launched next month. Although marked at different price points, these tablets seem to be good alternatives as e-learning tablets to the upcoming Aakash 2.
The Aakash 2 will come bundled with some amazing content and tie-ups, which bring a lot of useful content under one roof for students. But the question is, when will it reach students, if it does at all?. On the other hand, we’ve seen that the Aakash's affordable price tag is due to a lot of compromises on features and specifications. You can see this IBN Live video where they ripped apart the original Aakash to reveal its innards. The Funbook has been marketed as a complete educational tablet that blends in entertainment, games and Live TV. The HCL MyEduTab brings in two versions of its educational tablet, featuring cloud connectivity abilities depending upon the class and grade of the students. Both tablets competing with the Aakash 2 pose as edutainment tablets - which apparently means a combination of educational and entertainment with a technological twist.
Here's what the Aakash 2 is likely to offer as an e-learning tablet targetted at students.
The Aakash 2 will feature an array of e-learning apps, some of which were available on the original Aakash. To begin with, it will offer access to the Sakshat educational portal which is designed to assist both students and teachers. There’s a students' corner, a teacher’s corner, a space to carry out discussions and also a knowledge plus segment that offers ebooks, journals and study materials like Maps and free translation. Pre-loaded apps include Yahoo!'s web portfolio and news from Indian Express Group. GetJar provides access to over 350,000 software applications.
Original Aakash at its launch...
The tablet also includes Mango learning solutions for game-based educational modules, interactive smart books and the full CBSE curriculum. It features TestBag, the most comprehensive solution for testing and e-assessment. Intelligia finger tracing apps have also been included to teach letter writing to toddlers. But what makes it such a good tablet is its unbeatable price of Rs.2,263.
- Processor: Cortex A8 800MHz
- OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Display: 7-inch capacitive multi-touchscreen with 800 x 480 resolution
- RAM: 256MB of RAM
- Memory: 2GB internal storage, microSD card slot
- Battery: Li-ion Polymer 3200 mAH, 3 hours of battery life
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi and GPRS features (with SIM and mobile functionality), USB port
- Price: Rs. 2,263
Also, Datawind's Ubislate is believed to come with most of the aforementioned e-learning content, featuring better specs at a slightly higher price, which means it can also be considered to compete with its own step-sibling, if we may say so.
Let’s take a look at the two alternatives of the Aakash 2 in the e-learning space.
The Funbook comes with several apps pre-installed, but on clicking on the app and logging into the mStore, each of these apps shows a common interface. The interface is neat and segregated into compartments for Education, Games, Apps, Movies, Entertainment and Live TV. You will find apps already embedded in each section; for instance, you will find the Vriti e-learning app in the education section, about 13 games on adventure, arcade and action in the gaming section, a Bollywood flick in the movie section, entertainment apps like BigFlix, popular Hindi music, and also Live TV, which features 48 TV channels.
Value for money..
The Vriti e-learning app allows access to more than 500 smart courses ranging from Class 1 to Degree courses and even preparatory material for the medical, engineering and MBA entrance exams. One has to first register with Vriti and select the syllabus they wish to download. You also get study materials, videos, multimedia, tests, assessment, and even references from leading content brands like Pearson, Everonn, GK Publishers, Scholarshub, Vidyalankar, Universal Tutorials, CAPS, Zion and more. However, all this is available on a trial basis and you will have to buy the courses if you want permanent or extended usage. On the flipside, Vriti and some of the other content it offers is also available on Google Play and is not something exclusive to the Funbook.
What we liked was how well Micromax has segregated these categories and then placed the content for easier accessibility. Micromax has designed a nifty tablet by precisely picking some cool apps that students may find useful and entertaining.
Micromax has a very neat spec sheet and is also termed as a performer in our under Rs. 10,000 tablet comparison.
- Processor: 1.22 GHz Cortex-A8
- OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Display: 7-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen with 480 x 800 resolution
- RAM: 512MB
- Memory: 4GB internal memory, microSd card support up to 32GB
- Battery: Li-Ion 2800 mAh
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, microUSB port
- Price: Rs.6,499
HCL was supposed to bid for the second iteration of the Aakash tablet and had clearly stated that it would do so only if the price was feasible. However, it brought to the market its own version of the e-learning tablet in the form of two models of the MyEduTab: the K-12 and HE (Higher Education) models with relevant NCERT content. The K-12 version is completely aimed at personal learning with a topic revision application and a self assessment engine, allowing parents to monitor progress. The MyEduTab K12 Version will have NCERT K12 Mapped Content, solved examples, chapter quizzes, key revision points and free NCERT textbooks. Educational applications will include Parental Control Application, online quiz engine, My Studio to search and explore free educational content online, online videos, online encyclopedia and a Problem Solver Application. Also, the MyEduTab will have 1st to 5th standard Hindi and English content and GK Content for junior classes. The HE version includes all the NCERT content for higher education, but also serves as an edutainment device with rich multimedia content on technical and professional skills. It comes with similar assessments and interactive learning exercises along with content for professional development and networking, cloud service, online ebooks, LinkedIn for professional networking and also online educational videos.
On to the cloud...
Both the K-12 and HE tabs come with almost same spec sheet and the price is inclusive of the educational content, apps and the device.
- Processor: 1 GHz Processor
- OS: Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich
- Display: 7-inch capacitive touchscreen with 800 x 480 resolution
- RAM: 512MB DDR3 and a 1Ghz processor
- Memory: 4GB internal memory, expandable up to 32 GB via microSD card slot
- Connectivity: 3G USB Modem Support, Wi-Fi, USB port, mini USB port
- Battery: 3600 mAh Battery
- Price: MyEduTab K – 12 (Rs. 11,499) and MyEduTab HE (Rs. 9,999)
If you look at it clearly, Aakash 2 is completely aimed at the educational content and has some nifty tie-ups in the form of pre-loaded apps, and no other tablet beats it in the price segment. However, its spec sheet isn’t very appealing and we can't expect much from the design and build either. The HCL e-learning tablets are completely aimed at offering users a complete ecosystem, and the price clearly demands what it is offering. Moreover, the tablet is easily available in the market. Micromax is a cool edutainment device that has an extremely neat app that houses your gaming, educational and entertainments apps. The Micromax Funbook appears to be a tough competitor for the Aakash 2 (that is, if Aakash 2 reaches masses and delivers efficiently) judging by proximity of its price from the Funbook. Though the Funbook may not have a plethora of apps like the Aakash 2 does, it appears to be a more value-for-money device. Moreover, the tablet is easily available in the market through retailers and can also be ordered online.
Through the years, we've seen many educational programmes and applications reach us through electronic devices. E-learning was initially limited to computers, but slowly made it onto portable devices too; for instance, Spice released phones featuring the mGuruji e-learning app on its early Java-based phone.
Similarly, if you look at the existing tablet market and the mobile applications, you don't need to buy a tablet, which is pitched as an educational or e-learning tablet. You can turn your standard tablet into an e-learning tablet by simply installing the various educational apps available in the market.
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