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India unveils $35 laptop

Prototype slate device is intended to provide cheap computing for students

The Indian government says that it aims to bring the price for the device down to just $10.
The Indian government says that it aims to bring the price for the device down to just $10.
Kapil Sibal, India's human resource development minister, shows off the prototype device.
Kapil Sibal, India's human resource development minister, shows off the prototype device.

The Indian government has revealed a new laptop for students, which it says will cost just $35 (Rs 1,500).

The prototype device was unveiled on Friday by Kapil Sibal, India's human resource development minister, who said that the slate form factor PC would be made available to school children and higher education students.

The Linux-based device includes a touchscreen, browser and PDF reader, wi-fi, 2GB memory, USB, Open Office, and multimedia content viewers and interfaces. The laptop doesn't have a hard drive, but it will have an optional add on solar panel, so that it can be used in places with poor electricity supplies.

The device was developed by the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science in Bengalooru, with the government saying that it will be available to higher education students in 2011. Sibal said that the eventual aim was to drop the cost of the device to just $10.

"We have reached a (developmental) stage that today, the motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything," he said at the launch.

Critics have questioned the feasibility of the project, suggesting that prototype device has a bill of materials that is closer to $47, and that the aimed for price will rely on massive discounts for bulk purchases. The government has yet to find a manufacturer for the device, and has also announced a similar initiative last year, with the $10 Sakshat ‘laptop' project, which has failed to proceed past a prototype device.

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