Launch date announced for Sakshat, the $35 Indian tablet

India's Sakshat tabletThat Indian $35 laptop we told you about in July is slowly approaching reality, as the Indian government awarded the manufacturing contract to HC LTechnologies. The local computer services firm will deliver the now-officially-named Sakshat by January 10, 2011. HCL has been contracted to manufacture 100,000 units in the first phase.

HCL is no stranger to low-cost laptops, having partnered with Microsoft to roll out the world’s cheapest Windows laptop, the Classmate PC, back in 2008.

According to Live Mint, the Indian Institute of Technology in Rajasthan will test the tablets “in intensive laboratory and field tests across the country.” Testing will also include weather conditions. After testing, the government will purchase one million units to distribute to university students in the second half of the year. There is no information currently available about how the million units will be distributed; there are over 12 million higher education students in India.

The government has allocated 300 million rupees, or $6.5 million, for this project.

LiveMint reports a 9-inch tablet, but there are still several Websites claiming the initial phase will be a 7-inch tablet, with 5-inch and 9-inch versions to follow at a later date. The Sakshat will support video, Web conferencing, and include a PDF reader, unzip utilities, Open Office, Internet browser, and a media player. Specs include 2GB RAM memory, Wi-Fi connectivity, a camera, and a USB port. Power requirements are astoundingly low, requiring only two watts of juice.

Interestingly, the name is recycled from the $10 handheld device the Ministry of Human Resource Development announced last year, but never delivered on. There seems to be no consensus on what Sakshat actually means in Sanskrit, with various reports claiming capability, personification, before your eyes, and embodiment.

The price tag is still expected to be $35 with prices to drop further with government subsidies, although the latest announcement did not address pricing.