Naina KhedekarJan 24, 2014 16:13:31 IST
India’s ambitious Aakash project that is often embroiled in controversies – from delayed and defective shipments and consumer complaints to blame game with IIT Jodhpur and its assembler Quad Electronics – now plans to learn from the past mistakes. This time around, government has decided to keep the IITs aside, and the tablets will now be tested and certified by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
The Directorate General of Supplies & Disposals has issued a tender for Aakash 4 and seventeen vendors will be bidding to manufacture the device. The list of vendors include Dell, Acer, HP, HCL, Microsoft, Mircomax, among others. Moreover, Datawind, who has been building the Aakash tablets so far - will also bid to build this low-cost tablet.
It should be noted that Kapil Sibal led Telecom Ministry is taking the lead in the project, and not the HRD Ministry. C-DAC comes under the Department of Electronics & Information Technology, and eventually under Sibal. Last year, the HRD Ministry was slammed for its decision to award the project to the new and ill-equipped IIT Jodhpur.
HRD Ministry had given IIT-Jodhpur a Rs 47.72 crore contract for procuring 100,000 Aakash tablets but not more than 600 devices supplied by Datawind were found good enough and the institute rejected 7500 devices calling them defective. Datawind CEO, Suneet Singh Tuli said the institute over-emphasized on concerns regarding Aakash’s quality . He further accused the IIT of plagiarising military-type testing specification from HP and using them for the Aakash tablet and also secretly signing an agreement with Quad Electronics. The testing project was then transferred from IIT-Jodhpur to IIT-Bombay.
Now, C-DAC will reportedly conduct a two-stage testing procedure for Aakash 4 - a pre-qualification test that will allow the vendor to use the Aakash logo and sample testing conducted on randomly selected samples. At a meeting held n January 2, several aspects were discussed about the device and the tender for manufacturing the tablet will open after January 28. The price will be disclosed in mid-February and is expected to be even cheaper than its predecessors.
Aakash 4 is likely to sport a 7-inch capacitive, scratch-free touchscreen along with support for Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity. One can expect 4GB of internal storage, external memory card slot with storage capacity of up to 32 GB, Bluetooth and front camera.