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[liberationtech] Low-Cost Tablets

Nathan of Guardian nathan at
Tue Apr 15 12:17:39 PDT 2014

On 04/15/2014 02:59 PM, Sumantra Roy wrote:
> Hello - I am the co-founder of a new social enterprise named Learning
> Yogi ( whose objective is to distribute low-cost
> Android tablets containing educational games to extremely
> underprivileged children in India and other developing countries. The
> tablet is designed to teach children topics like English, Maths,
> Science, etc.
Great project! I spent last year in India and other Southeast Asia areas
tracking the low-cost Android phone/tablets trickling in from China
under various names.

On a related note, Google's own approach to this problem is to focus on
Chromebooks. Here's a story/promo for their work in Malaysia:

> Given the nature of the target market and the very limited resources
> at their disposal, the tablet needs to be as low-cost as possible.
You need to balance your need for an initial "low-cost" solution versus
the costs down the road of user frustration, broken device support, etc.
Keeping Android tablets upgraded, functioning, malware free, etc is a
decent effort. I would definitely look into Chromebooks, and also
consider how much of the learning you may want your students to do
should actually involve a keyboard/laptop type form-factor versus just a
touch screen.

> We want to identify a Chinese manufacturer who can produce such
> low-cost tablets for us in bulk. While we can compromise on things
> like memory, capacity, processor speed etc., in order to reduce the
> cost of the tablet, the key quality parameter for us is to ensure that
> the tablets have an average longevity of at least 2 years - i.e. they
> must be hardy enough to last for at least 2 years or so on average
> even when they are used by kids in the somewhat harsh (hot, humid and
> dusty) conditions that are found in villages and urban slums in India.

Most low-cost Chinese tablets I have owned lasted about four to six
months. These were in the $50-80 USD price range. That is the biggest
compromise you make with the price is build quality. All the specs will
be the same, but the thing will just stop working due to a bad solder,
cheap screen, shorted power plug or some dust/humidity related condition.

To contrast that, a Nexus 7 2012 edition I have has easily lasted nearly
two years, and will likely last a few more, especially since I have it
in a nice case. You can get these now for $149-199 USD.

> I would love to get some advice from anyone on this list who has
> experience sourcing products from China and/or who can advise us on
> how to go about estimating the average lifespan of different models of
> tablets. If you have some expertise in this, please drop me an email
> and we can then discuss it further offline. 

I can't give much more advice beyond what I have, but in my own efforts
to thing about providing cheap+secure tablets to activists and others, I
have decided that I would rather focus on Nexus hardware, produced by
ASUS, that costs a bit more up front, but last longer and is very reliable.

Best of luck!


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