Is There A $35 Tablet PC In Your Students Future?

The Indian government recently unveiled a working prototype of a small tablet computer that it says will initially sell for $35. The same organization within the government, however, also announced a prototype $10 laptop last year amid initiatives to connect all of India’s college-age students to learning resources.

$10 netbooks aren’t in the hands of Bangalore’s next generation of IT workers yet, so is this the real deal?

There’s actually a fair amount of evidence to suggest that this one will see the light of day, although one has to wonder if $35 is reasonable outside of India where government subsidies could help keep costs down. Given rapidly falling equipment costs, though, $35-50 isn’t outlandish, particularly with recent advances from Pixel Qi with their very low cost, high efficiency screen technologies offering reduced power consumption and extended battery life as well the potential interest from Taiwan to manufacture these devices at scale.

Further examination of the specs and video of a working prototype tend to inspire a bit more confidence in this device as well.

While Nicholas Negroponte is known for his accuracy in predicting prices for OLPC products (One Laptop Per Child), he is seeing $75 as a price point for a proposed tablet-based iteration of the OLPC XO. Clearly, $75 is the price to beat for schools and education ministries to roll out any sort of tablet on truly large scales, but the $35 tablet, with no internal storage, also presumes a set of cloud applications that support learning efforts. These web applications will need to leverage emerging mobile technologies to ensure that they are touch optimized, fast, and rich in ways that HTML 5 continues to promise. Perhaps Google apps will become the productivity application of choice.

No word on which version of Linux will power the device, assuming it comes to market, or how it will cultivate a developer ecosystem, but it now seems pretty likely that 2011 will see a host of inexpensive tablet devices that could be quickly deployed in educational settings if the software and applications are there to support it.

Check out this YouTube Video to see the working models introduction

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