Android Tablets, India

The Truth about $35 Android Tablet from Indian Government (Update)

Update, Oct 5, 2011: After 13 months of publishing this report, Indian government today released another tablet that is completely different from what was shown last year and turned out to be a Chinese product. Government learnt from its mistakes and went back to the drawing board and created a whole new tablet that was released today as Aakash (October 5, 2011).

The so called “$35 Android tablet of Indian government” is actually Chinese manufacturer Hivision’s Speedpad or PWS700HA, whatever you call it. The images of $35 Android tablet from Indian government with Hivision Speedpad below will clearly prove everything.

$35 Android tablet from Indian Government (Left) & Hivision Speedpad (Right) – Click to Enlarge

A little bit of history about the Hivision Speedpad now, the tablet was first seen at CeBIT 2010 and company said it would be priced somewhere around $100.
So, Indian government is actually showing off some Chinese company’s product as their home developed path-breaking innovation.  Let us just go once again through a part of press release that government published when they launched “so called $35 Tablet”.

The ministry started its efforts , subsequent to lukewarm response from known corporates in this sector, by holding discussions on this concept with a group of Professors / experts at IISc, Bangalore, IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay. B.Tech and M.Tech students were guided to produce the mother board for such low cost devices with ample flexibility to change components. One mother board design was generated under Ministry’s guidance in the B.Tech project of a student at VIT, Vellore. The cost of bill of material worked to 47 $ at that point of time. The PCB of the mother board was got fabricated at IIT Kanpur. It could be seen that by customising the device to the needs of learners across the country, and utilizing the processor capabilities of processors suitable for the purpose, it was possible to substantially reduce the prices of such access-cum-computing devices. Then started a wave of collaboration with such interested partners.

If government wanted to do something like this, why involve India’s top engineering colleges’ name in the whole thing. Why destroy their reputation. Government is just buying a tablet, which I am sure nobody else is buying, in bulk on a cheap rate and then subsidizing it to sell it for $35.
There are many questions now, which Indian government needs to answer. I hope to hear the truth from them in the coming days.

Update: We have contacted Hivision for their comments on the news and are awaiting a response from them.

We are also hearing that HCL, which was reportedly awarded contract for manufacturing the tablet, is actually only responsible for setting up infrastructure for testing the tablet.

Inspiration: Jaimon Joseph

35 thoughts on “The Truth about $35 Android Tablet from Indian Government (Update)

  1. So what if a Chinese company is manufacturing the hardware? Most of the hardware that is being consumed by the world is actually manufactured in China. What is important is that the conceptualization of the product (both the hardware and software) is done by the big brand companies who outsource the manufacturing to the Chinese companies.

  2. @Manoj

    The problem is not that Chinese company is manufacturing the tablet, the problem is govt lied – It said that they conceptualized it – made its mother board, IITs were working on it, but there was nothing like that. They just bought the tablet from Hivision and is now calling them their own.

  3. Maybe IITs are working on some drivers to make it faster, making education apps to make the hardware useful…why do you bash them?

  4. How do you ascertain that Hivision did not copy the design and idea from the Indian Govt or the IITs?

    And, even if it is proved that Indian Govt is buying the tablet from Hivision – are you aware that the h/w and s/w is the same on both devices (Hivision vs Indian one)?
    It might be possible that they bought it from Hivision coz they thought it to be a good first prototype and changed the h/w, optimized the s/w to fit into the $35 tag?

    I hope you realize that if this ‘news’ of your’s turns out to be false, then how it would impact your credibility.

  5. @ RDx May be you are right that IITs are working on Drivers and stuff, but then Government does not need to make these bold claims about how the whole thing was planned and stuff and they actually made motherboard after so much research and all. It is almost certain now that they actually bought the device from that Chinese manufacturer and they will tweak it to show it as their own.

    @ Pranay I wish you were true, but Hivision tablet came way back in March, if you see our story of that time. So, they can not copy our govt ‘s tablet. And if it is proved that they bought the device from China, their whole claim of building the device from the very concept is false..

  6. epic fail !!! – if this is true, that’s so embarrassing for those schools in India. To publicly announce that they made this was wrong, if they optimized it, then just say that and give credit where credit is due. lol. funny and sad at the same time.

  7. @Gaurav
    What’s appalling to me more is not the news, but the surety with which you’re claiming that the government stole the idea.
    I would have preferred a neutral, fact-based and well backed up article (for example,–35-laptop-really-indian.html?from=tn)… atleast until things become clear, or we have an official statement from Hivision, the Indian Govt. or other people involved.

  8. In China, the casing designs are often open and free for any manufacturer to use.

    The truth is the Indian $35 Tablet is based on electronics and software made by Bangalor AllGo Systems.

    What really happened, the Indian HRS saw my video of AllGo Systems , and they though it was a good idea and that triggered them announcing the project.

    This is how this works. All devices are manufactured in China no matter what. No other country has the same consumer electronics manufacturing infrastructure to be able to build tablets and stuff like that.

  9. I don’t think the IIT’s are being pulled into this without a choice. Looks like the IIT’s cannot design any world class hardware on their own and want to attach their name to something “safe” that the govt. is already liking.

    The only unique thing in the entire tablet is the price point. Which, as far as I am concerned, it highly subsidised. Unless the IIT’s can lay claim to inventing “subsidies”, they don’t have any play here. Move on, go write another entrance exam or something.

  10. Now the true colour of India is coming out. If this story about Chinese made is true, I will never ever believe Indian govt again.

  11. I have always been skeptical of the $35 price tag. But your claim that it is the Hivision’s Speedpad seems very premature. All that you have is the pictures and nothing else. They both could be using the same casing as Charbax has said. How do they compare hardware wise?
    And no, the pictures does not prove anything.
    To call someone a cheat based on the “evidence” that you have is not right.

  12. It’s too early to call the Indian Govt. a cheat just because they ended up using a similar casing to one chinese tablet. All tablet casings are made in china. There is no comparison of SPEC, there is no comparison of components, just because two tablets use same case, you cant go on to call the Govt. of a Country a liar and it’s institutions freuds. should know better. This kind of accusation is too sophomoric.

  13. Not related at all, but somewhat reminds me of the time when OLPC was conceived, and HCL came out with their own clone (which I bought). While OLPC came with just 2 gb (maybe 4) flash, HCL added a 30 gb ide drive in there, which was quite cool. Even the first lot of Asus EeePCs only had 2-4 gb flash.

  14. That casing you see on hivision is a public mould and anybody can use it as its readily available and also there are some diff between the two devices. At this moment the most critical aspect is the price as how they will achieve it as its no where possible to hit this price point at the moment no matter what crap software you use.

  15. Can’t just jump that Govt.of India lied on this.. There could be some truth in this. The Design should have been made by VIT students. .i mean the prototype.. and it production should have been outsourced to some Chinese company.. The IDEA is from INDIA.. so why make so much of fuss? Why Indians cant design a Mother board?
    After all .. all the innovation that American companies make is mass produced in some parts of China!

  16. Can’t say whether it was cheap publicity stunt of the government or your blog because I haven’t seen any serious evidence to prove/disprove either.

    If you were such concerned about truth you would probably verify your claims before publishing them.


  17. I think making such a post is unwarranted without sufficient proof. It’s easy to post such stuff and get cheap publicity , but there has to be some sense of morality. Please remember, innocent until proven guilty.

  18. What you’re claiming is just based on the pictures of the end products. It might be the case that Govt.’s tablet uses the same or similar design casing as Hivision’s casing. That’s just external look. I agree external looks are same. But what about internal hardware and software?

    If you read Govt.’s press release – majority of the focus is on building “motherboard.” That’s what those EE/CS guys do – build motherboards/drivers/os. They probably didn’t build the design/casing. They probably are not the designers.

    Have you compared Apples to Apples before claiming this? If yes, then it’s shame on Govt. If not, then please make credible claims.

  19. I think it takes more than just a comparison of two pictures to determine the truthfulness of your proposition. You need to investigate more into the topic before posting something as potentially controversial as this.

  20. New gadgets are comming out daily. Its really interesting seeing how our world is now so involved with electronic devices – ie. Iphone, blackberries, Ipods, notebooks, etc. We have definetly become a connected community in more ways than one. Facebook, Twitter and everything other social media platform interconnects with us through these devices. I wonder what is going to happen in the next 10 years….. Makes you want to think.

  21. all those who r blaming indian govt. frm my opinion i will say u all r wrong ever u thought that if indian govt. has stolen it . Ok let it consider as govt. has done crime . he has done crime for whom for the public,for the poor people .as this india is developing country one day it will be developed think hw it will developed i ll say by removing provety, by developing education .Govt.has done some gud for us then also u all hv problem

    i’m a student of class 10th from syna international school i can pay money for my lap and i can express by views on these topics.but all the poor people who also want to learn hw 2 operate the computer and want 2 express there views .Govt.wants 2 fulfil there neds but then also the people of india has problem.

  22. I am seeing a different tablet shown by aakash and this does not match the image you’ve posted. Easy to see that when you go to home page. Maybe you could write about this tablet that they actually seem to be using?

  23. It appears that the ‘product’ is no more than the outcome of a BTech 8th semester project — and just a “reader” (a.k.a) tablet — guided by some engineer-turned-bureaucrat acting as the Project Guide.
    Such student Projects need work only till the external examiner gives grades at the Project Viva-voce examination.
    Just because a microprocessor or micro-controller (!!!) may be inside it is being touted as a computer.

    Who said it was an android? As the second photo and the specs.card in front of the display say it is an Andriod. Is not that an odd product ?

  24. I stand corrected if the information given in the website is accurate.

    It is a cheap version (price-wise) of Android tablet – -for viewing video, listen to audio, talk on phone (SIM provision there too). The processor (originally an ARM — I have to check what this Cortex A* does).
    While mAh increase(compared to the previous version) cannot be used to compare the operating time after a single charge (as there is a change in Proc, and the Video CoProc addition), somewher betweenthe lines, there is a mention of 180 mins operation on the ubislate website.
    The USB ports can help in many ways — having an ext keyboard. I hope the Motherboard etc would not be student project quality type.– The reputation of the Ubislate would depend upon the reliability.

    It would be unwise to hope anything better for the price!! Critics always criticise.
    It can definitely not replace any Desktop, Laptop or even a Netbook.

    It does what it can do for the price. It is better to accept the fact the design has been made to suit the needs of school children (who can definitely not afford the Netbooks and above; and who do not need 3G and all for their classroom education!!) — and above all the Govt can easily afford to give these free to all school children of India — majority of whom cannot dream (and also not need them at the school) of (even seeing live) Computers.



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