17 Reasons why $35 Aakash Tablet (Ubislate) Sucks and is a Big Failure
Aakash Tablet, the over-hyped product which was launched by the Indian government, is a complete failure. Not just worth the money, but not worth purchasing at any price. Why? there are many flaws and reasons for that. We are going just by the specifications of the device that the company has given, and a couple unboxing videos of it because we couldn’t get a hands-on experience on it, or am sure the reasons for hating it would surely have increased then. And the reason why no hands-on experience? the over hyped Aakash tablet is said to be sold out and the company is already working on the next version of it, the Ubislate Plus, which will have a few better specifications. It won’t rock too, surely would be resembling one of those cheap Chinese tablets, but at least would have the SIM card option. But what does Aakash give you after you purchase it? Disappointment.
Why was the Aakash tablet launched?
To improve the system of education in India. These were the initial words said by Mr. Kapil Sibal – “Soon, a 35 dollar computer will be made available to every child in school. The tablet shall help enhance the quality of learning of children,” said Sibal.
After that was said, the entire tablet project moved around through various companies until Datawind fixed the deal to launch the tablet, and that too got delayed for a couple months. Finally, it is in the markets, but from the people who have it, I haven’t seen a single person saying that he is happy with the usage of the tablet. In fact, they all are trying to keep themselves happy keeping in mind the fact that they are the early users of the Aakash tablet.
Mind you, here is the pricing of the Aakash Tablet, for those who feel Aakash is real cheap -
- Tablet cost – Rs. 2500
- Shipping cost – Rs. 200
- A 4GB or 8GB MicroSD card – Rs. 500 to Rs. 800
- No earphones given, purchase one – At least Rs. 400
Its going to be Rs. 4000 collectively, for sure.
Let us see why I would opt against this tablet -
Processor is a self killer
Do you think the Android OS would need less enough memory to run, on a tablet device which would be running a few applications and graphics? We are seeing the cheapest Android mobiles from Spice too having near to 600 MHz processor, and the Aakash in contrast, has just 336 MHz processor. Half of it would always be kept on use for just running the OS, so one can assume the limitation in multi-tasking.
Low memory, no big storage possible, hence no entertainment
It seems Kapil Sibal is trying to make the education system harder, with a tablet that won’t be able to store big number of files, hence no songs, no video storage (Imagine, after a few big apps in it, you think at least a couple movies could be stored?). Of course you can expand the memory, as the company says, to 32GB but a MicroSD card of 8GB is available for a price of around INR 800 to 1000, so where does the price of Rs. 2500 fix in the end?
Low battery, 2100 mAh for what usage?
Even a simple Android phone comes with a 1500 mAh battery, for the mere 3 to 3.5-inch screens. Most of the battery would be drained from that 2100 mAh capacity to just run the Aakash tablet. The company says its 180 minutes of power backup, but didn’t mention what kind of usage is possible with it. As they tried to limit the storage, the low processor all of which won’t help in entertainment, then the web browsing and reading might help the battery last for a max. of 3 hours.
Poor display, reflects light
As expected, the display has nothing much to appreciate. A very basic display with no HD output. The screen reflects the light, and at its highest brightness too, the tablet won’t be able to display the stuff well in the bright conditions. True, they want you to use it in closed areas, not under the sun.
Touchscreen is resistive, but too resistive
That sometimes need a hard hit to select an icon or particular part on the screen, and a gentle touch won’t make a difference to it. Many Chinese tablet devices have the resistive touchscreens but they at least respond well when a push and drag sequence is done on the screen, and that unlocks the screen well. Here you are playing a game with the screen by hitting it hard and dragging it, to unlock the screen and you lose the game many-a-times.
Heating up quickly
We always see the high-end processors getting heated up as they have the task of maintaining the speeds and support the multitasking etc. But in Aakash, we don’t see a reason for it getting heated up, unless when we try to give it a torture testing with multiple functions. Still it gets heated up within an hour of continuous usage. (We confirmed this through actual users who tried using the Wi-Fi and browsing the web for an hour).
No bluetooth, no support for a USB dongle
Am specifying the point of no support for a USB dongle, because one of the recent products that I reviewed, the Ainol Novo 7 tablet comes with the price of $100, and has support for any USB dongle and that dongle can use any 3G SIM for the network connection. Aakash lacks even that option. When you are giving the USB ports (which indeed is one of the best features of the Aakash tablet), you should even give the tablet some usage that people could take advantage of, for those ports. A support for 3G dongle would have been excellent, or I don’t see any necessity of giving those 2 USB ports and making the tablet look ugly from one side. The uniformity in the design is lost there.
No Android Market, no app installation
Not kidding. The Aakash tablet misses the Android marketplace and that limits the usage to the given apps. Those who know how to get things done on it, would try to install the market separately, but the target buyers (in the rural areas) would have a knowledge of at least what an Android market is? they might be satisfied assuming that there is a bulk of apps given already and that is what all the other Android tablets get.
Hardware won’t support upgrades
If at all you are trying to use your skills, and install 3rd party applications without the need of the Android market, many of the latest applications would need the latest Android OS, at least the gingerbread 2.3 version. But with the 366 MHz processor, one won’t dare to try to upgrade it (obviously there are no upgrades available too) knowing the fact that the low processor won’t support it.
Connectivity only through Wi-Fi, but Wi-Fi in India?
I am not saying that India is poor at connectivity (I don’t want big time haters), but that’s the harsh truth. Metro cities too struggle in providing Wi-Fi networks through the service providers, so from where do you expect a Wi-Fi network in rural areas? or even in the developing places? With the Aakash tablet having an option of just Wi-Fi, assuming that there is no connectivity option at all would be the same. Unless you are a geek, or working in a company that has a good support of network through Wi-Fi, you get nothing for Aakash. Through one of the users we even found that the Wi-Fi reception isn’t good.
No external speakers (confirmed with WashingtonPost)
Great! No headphones given, but socket is given for the same. You want to listen to some audio? there are no external speakers. The option you are left with, is to buy the earphones and so shell out extra money for it.
Android 2.2 Froyo, Market has tablets with 2.3 or 4.0 now
The market is seeing many Gingerbread and IceCream Sandwich tablets around (ICS is the latest, and one of the cheapest tablets Ainol Novo 7 comes with that already), and Aakash makes you stick to one of the previous ones, the Android 2.2 Froyo OS. That surely has to do something with the processor and internal specs of the device.
We are buying a product, not using an advertised one for free
Turn the Aakash tablet around, and there would be one big central logo with Ubislate/Datawind and a couple barcodes below it. Almost the entire back area is covered with it. Imagine how ugly it would look when you hold a big tablet device in your hands, and the back others see is a fully loaded one with the logos of the company.
Did the manufacturers try to save themselves from the criticism?
Instead of asking for the suggestions and improvements from users and reviewers, the manufacturers totally kept the Aakash Tablet a mystery. Kapil Sibal, the HR&D Minister from Indian govt. hyped it a lot. Being into the TV news and media kept the hype on, and users kept booking the tablet devices and the company knew it would surely be appreciated, if they even gave a buggy tab in the users hands. No media companies or reviewers got any review device, or even some early-bird chances to get a hands-on experience and review it. Why? because that would have brought a lot of criticism.
For me, Aakash 1 is an attempt made by the company to make users get more inclined towards buying and showing their interest in the Ubislate Plus, i.e. Aakash 2 which is priced more, and as the company says, they have got lacs of bookings already for it (ah, seems their plans have worked well for now).
All this could ask for an upgraded version, which is already in the process, named the Ubislate Plus. When you are coming with an upgraded version with a camera, a SIM slot, and a better processor and battery within just a couple of months after the first release, why making the users a fool by making them purchase the first tab and wait already for the second version. Those who aren’t satisfied with the performance and usage of the first version of the Aakash tablet now would try to go for the next version, as its already hyped with the words “Hey its coming with a SIM capability”, and “oh wow, a camera and SIM for internet browsing just for 3k”. Collectively it would be around Rs. 7000 you would shell out for both the tablet devices and get disappointment for nothing but the two pieces of nothing-useful there. The same money could get you some better tablet devices, look around in the market.
Targeting the villages / rural sectors / students – Worst Idea
- Villages lack the continuous supply of power, and almost half of the day they don’t see the power availability. The tablet device isn’t going to run long for many hours, the maximum it can stay is for 3 hours. How would one try to get the charge it needs?
- If the tablet device is for students in both the rural and urban sectors, with the Wi-Fi as we already said, not being available everywhere, one won’t have an option of doing anything much than having a couple games to play during the time there is no access to the internet. This really promotes education?
- Without the high-storage (which users need to pay more for getting an extra MicroSD card), one won’t be able to store any educational videos or ebooks if at all they are being provided by the institutions.
- Students discount was limited to technology colleges (as said by one of the customer care representatives of Datawind). Does this mean the students of law, medicine etc. are technologically challenged and won’t need the tablet devices for any specific purpose? But the harsh fact was that none of the students I knew got the Aakash tablet at all. They might be unlucky, but we think there was no students discount applied at all. Then why put the stamp of “Student” and “Education” in every news piece around?
Media hype was one of the reasons behind all this, ignoring the nice and appreciation-deserving tablet devices like the iBall Slide, Reliance digital tab, a few low-grade tablet devices by Accord, Wespro etc. and focusing on this thing which had the name of Indian govt. behind it. Most of the media guys who covered this never had a knowledge of what the tablet devices provide, what their specifications are, etc.
No where in this post I have tried to compare the tablet with the high-end contenders like the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom etc. because with the progress Aakash and their manufacturers are going with, competing with those big guns won’t make sense for at least a few next generations of the Aakash upgrades.
The reasons for hating the Aakash tablet would surely increase when we actually get the product in our hands for a review. The overhyped product might reach our desk in a few days, then you would see the actual stuff what we are talking about. These are roughly around 17 reasons we found without actually having the Aakash tablet in hands. You guys would add more for sure, if you had an experience already.
Don’t confuse yourself with the things done by Datawind. Check Aakash vs Ubislate for getting the few differences between both.
Img credit: WashingtonPost
Update: A few readers, as expected got harsh and want to know which are some good alternatives. Here are a few:
- One of the best is Ainol Novo 7, comes for $100, and is the first tablet to have the latest Android OS 4.0 version.
- Another one from Wespro is for 6.5k and comes with the SIM option.
- One from Maxtouuch comes with Wi-Fi, 3G dongle support, built-in camera etc. and it comes for around 6k.
I really don’t get a point at saying “What do you expect for 2.5l”, because you get Nothing at all. Why waste even that 2.5k then?