Remember that $35 tablet from India? Surprise surprise: it hasn’t been doing so well. ZDNet Asia reports that India’s Union Human Resource Development Ministry is looking into upgrading the specifications for the tablet, and also bumping the price to $50. It turns out that users were less than impressed by the $35 device, finding it too slow, its battery life too short, and its resistive touchscreen too hard to use.
DataWind, the company that was manufacturing the device, had been supposed to make over a million units, but only 10,000 have been shipped since October. The company complains that its partner, the Indian Institute of Technology, suddenly changed the tablet’s specifications late in the production process, adding a requirement that it meet the durability standards of the American military at the same price point.
DataWind CEO Suneet Singh was quoted by Reuters to say that the device would be required "to take 4 inches an hour of sustained rain" among other things. "We objected to it and the project has been on hold since then, we are working with the ministry to get that resolved," Singh added.
The upgraded specs for the new tablet would include a capacitive touchscreen, like the iPad’s or Kindle Fire’s, rather than resistive like the old Palm Pilot’s.
On a related note, my brother lately asked me if I knew of any $50 to $80 Android tablet devices suitable for just doing plain vanilla web browsing. He was looking into picking up several of them to use as player aids in his pen-and-paper RPG campaigns. I had to tell him that, apart from the resistive-screened Pandigital Novel, there weren’t really many good choices at that price point yet.
Maybe if this tablet or one like it is able to come out and work, sooner or later we’ll see cheap tablets at that price point. Maybe in a couple more years the original Nook Color, Nook Tablet, or Kindle Fire will sell in that range. But we aren’t there yet—and apparently India’s $35 tablet isn’t either.