Update: Economic Times reports that the $35 android tablet has hit a roadblock as HCL’s tender has been canceled by the government for not being able to provide a Rs. 60 crore bank guarantee. You are free to skip the earlier report below.
Update (Oct 5th 2011):
Sakshat Aakash $35 tablet has been officially released today by Mr Kapil Sibal. Check out Aakash tablet.
This is as mysterious and speculative as it can get. Back in September 2010, we were amongst the first ones to break the news about HCL teaming up with Government of India to manufacture 100,000 units of Sakshat tablet, the world’s cheapest android based tablet, costing just around $35 for the end-users. At that time, HCL had neither rejected, nor approved the rumors completely.
January 10th 2011 was the date set for the launch of Sakshat, which is today, but there are no confirmed news yet about the release except for some random blog posts like this which mentions about HCL Sakshat being available online starting today, in different screen sizes like 5-inch, 7-inch and 10-inches.
This $35 tablet raised quite a few eyeballs, when Kapil Sibal, the then HRD minister announced in July last year that the government is planning to manufacture several thousands of this android tablet, boasting some impressive specs like 2 GB RAM, wi-fi, camera, USB port and others, all for Rs.1500 (approx $35). Many tech pundits wondered about the practicality of such a project.
Then came a bolt in the blue, where some bloggers alleged that Sakshat was nothing but a prototype of a $100 Chinese tablet, Hivision Speedpad, which was again counter-argued that only the front panel might have been sourced from the Chinese makers.
Now, this news of HCL Sakshat being available online, is again controversial, since the HRD minister always had maintained that the tablets are meant only for university students in India, and not for general public. Since we didn’t get an official confirmation from HCL when the (speculated) partnership deal was signed, may be they had convinced the government to sell the tablets for general public as well.
For now, the HCL Store website, doesn’t list Sakshat at all. We will keep you updated nevertheless.