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India’s $35 Aakash tablet to get hardware upgrade as well as Android 4.0

indiaIndia’s much-touted Aakash device is getting an upgrade – Ice Cream Sandwhich is coming to the $35 Android tablet along with some hardware improvements.

UK-based Datawind is the company responsible for the cheap tablets. The Indian government quickly took to the possibilities of providing cheap computing devices to many students across the country and agreed to subsidize the tablet from its full price of $45 to $35. The original Aakash device came with Android 2.2, a 7-inch touchscreen and a arm-based 366MHz processor.

Datawind CEO, Suneet Singh Tuli told IDG News that product deliveries for the next-generation Aakash tablet will commence in a couple of weeks. The Aakash 2 will be shipped with Gingerbread; however, in about 6 to 8 weeks the tablet will be Android 4.0 upgradeable. Hardware-wise, the new Aakash will be featuring single-core, 800Mhz Arm Cortex-A8 processor as well as a 7-inch capacitive multitouch screen. Tuli also said that the tablet will most likely be getting a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor by year’s end.

“We’re confident that by the fall, Cortex A9 dual-core processors will be in the same [price] range as what Cortex A8 is at today,” said Tuli.

Datawind, working together with the Indian Institute of Technology in Rajasthan, was on track to provide 8-10 million units to the Indian government last month by March 31. However, there has been a hiccup in that expected number, and at the beginning of the Indian governments fiscal quarter of April 1, the budget is for 5 million units.

Much of the delay seems to be centered around disagreements with the Rajasthan Institute of Technology and the UK-based Datawind; disagreements which stem from testing criteria. In the future, Datawind will be working with the Institute of Technology-Bombay. IIT-Bombay gets first crack at the Aakash 2, set to purchase 100K units.

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