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[liberationtech] Low-Cost Tablets

Jon jon at
Tue Apr 15 14:07:51 PDT 2014

Hash: SHA1

On Tuesday, April 15, 2014 03:17 PM, Nathan of Guardian wrote:
> 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.

Has anyone played with the Akash tablets? Theoretically, they are
built to be the answer to this question.  They're India's answer to
the OLPC (another contender in the
low-cost-educational-computer-system), and are built to be sturdy but
cheap, with wifi-only tablets coming in at 65-80 USD: , but at least the first
models suffered from the problems Nathan outlines below for cheap
tablets, more info:

Best of luck!

> 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!
> +nathan

- -- 
Jon at

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