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Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

The cheapest Android tablet I've ever seen costs $20, with a $2 per month unlimited data plan, and I'm holding it right now. It might not just change the tablet market. It might change the world.

Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

The Ubislate 7ci, also known as the Aakash2, is the latest gadget from Datawind, a Canadian company that's spent seven years trying to find the ideal market for some really neat data-optimization technology. On devices like the PocketSurfer and PocketSurfer 2, Datawind showed that it can display desktop Web pages quickly with low-cost devices on super-low-bandwidth networks like 2G GPRS. But it never gained major market traction in the Western world, especially as 3G and 4G networks have spread.

India may be the place that really needs Datawind's expertise. Datawind's enthusiastic founder, Suneet Singh Tuli, just inked a deal with the Indian government to subsidize his $40.41 tablet by half for up to 220 million Indian students. That means Indian teachers and kids will get a Web-capable device for $20 up front.

The Indian government is psyched about e-learning in part because of the very uneven quality of Indian education. Especially in rural areas, Indian teachers often aren't well-trained, and access to ebooks and video learning over the Internet could dramatically improve the quality of education and help stamp out illiteracy.

The $20 tablet requires Wi-Fi, though, so it'll start out on university and high school campuses that already have Wi-Fi, Tuli said. Those kinds of places also have power to charge the tablets' sealed-in batteries.

The cellular version of the tablet is even more intriguing to me. Tuli made a deal with an Indian carrier, Aircel, for an unlimited-data GPRS plan at R98 ($2) per month. That experience would be pretty awful except for Datawind's special Ubisoft browser, which as I've seen before, can actually show decent Web pages with load times of about five seconds on GPRS. (That's about a tenth of the time it would take with a normal browser.) Our PocketSurfer 2 review has some hands-on details of the technology and explains how it works.

Technology breaks through when it costs less than 20 percent of average monthly income, Tuli said. The cellular version of the Ubislate costs $6 more, but using Tuli's math, this tablet is still affordable to people who make around $3,000 a year. It even works as a phone.

Tuli also said a completely free data plan could be in the cards. Once you're down to $2 per month, it's possible to subsidize that cost with advertising and sponsorship deals, he said. Datawind already pulled off that trick in the U.K., where it bundles some free Internet access with its Ubisurfer and Pocketsurfer devices.



Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

But in my mind, India is more than a good enough market for this inexpensive tech. The world's biggest democracy has shown great promise, but it's been held back by education and infrastructure problems. If Tuli can help unlock the potential of Indian kids, it'll be good for the whole world.

Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

The Ubislate has an 800-by-480 screen and runs a stock version of Android 4.0.4.
The Ubislate has a MicroSD slot along with MicroUSB and headphone jacks, and a single speaker on the glossy plastic back.
The Ubislate is actually quite slim and easy to hold
The Ubislate ran all of our benchmarks and performed about as well as an entry-level Android smartphone.
The Ubislate features a VGA camera on the front, which also records video.


Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures

Ubislate 7ci Tablet Pictures


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