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Datawind Not Blowing Smoke: $38 Tablet Coming To the US 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the should-rename-it-to-weatherpad-and-market-to-old-dudes dept.
BigVig209 writes "In a follow-up to a story we discussed in May, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that London-based Datawind it will begin selling its $38 UbiSlate tablet computer in the U.S. early next year. 'The $38 7-inch touchscreen UbiSlate 7Ci tablet runs on Google's Android 4.0 and features a 1-gigahertz, single-core processor. It has 4 gigabytes of storage with microSD card slots for additional storage. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800x480 pixels.' The specs aren't the greatest, fastest, or most powerful, but, for under $50, they're still pretty decent."
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Datawind Not Blowing Smoke: $38 Tablet Coming To the US

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  • classroom tools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:18PM (#45717401)
    With those being cheaper than most textbooks, I think we can see more e-textbooks being popular in the future.
    • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bobbied (2522392) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:31PM (#45717555)

      Have you priced E-Text books lately? Maybe it's because I'm looking at college level stuff, but they get a LOT of money just to let you use their book for 6 months and a whole lot more to get the book forever. I just don't see that happening until the publishers back off the rental prices.

      • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Informative)

        by Moheeheeko (1682914) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:36PM (#45717611)
        The last ebook I purchased for school was $20, compared to the print copy that was $210, then again that was 5 years ago
        • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @03:18PM (#45718063)

          The last 'ebook' I bought was for an astrophysics class. A mandatory $190 license to access a textbook online for three months. By Pearson of course. No one should be pleased with how things are going.

      • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Insightful)

        by steveha (103154) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @03:17PM (#45718043) Homepage

        I'm hoping to see a trend where professors or graduate students write new textbooks and just contribute them to the public domain. Inexpensive tablets plus free textbooks means inexpensive education.

        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4123035&cid=44658533 [slashdot.org]

        It's still early days with ebooks, really. The publishers want to keep the prices high, but the barriers to entry into the market are low. Free textbooks will disrupt the pricing model.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by murdocj (543661)

          Yes, because of course people will do hundreds of hours of work for free. Personally, I'm looking forward to the trend where random people send me enough money that I can retire.

          • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Insightful)

            by narcc (412956) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @03:29PM (#45718189) Journal

            Yes, because of course people will do hundreds of hours of work for free.

            They will, as it turns out. You'll find countless examples on the internet. Not everyone is as selfish as you.

            • by MBGMorden (803437)

              The problem is that SOMEONE will do that, but usually for most classes you don't just need a random textbook on the subject - you need a specific one that is normally chosen by the professor. Sometimes they have "incentives" to mandate a textbook from a certain publisher or sometimes they make a book that they wrote the mandatory textbook so that they get all the royalties.

              I ended up buying a lot of my books at Half.com back when I was in school because I could get them cheaper used there (just had to make

            • by murdocj (543661)

              So everyone who doesn't donate hundreds of hours of work for free is selfish? Just out of curiosity, what do YOU donate?

              • by narcc (412956)

                The incredulity that the parent expressed at the very prospect of laboring exclusively for the benefit of others implies that he's very selfish. So selfish, in fact, that he cannot even comprehend the idea that others would act selflessly.

              • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Interesting)

                by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @07:11PM (#45720761)

                So everyone who doesn't donate hundreds of hours of work for free is selfish?

                In my opinion, yes. Everyone should make time in their life to improve the world in some way.

                Just out of curiosity, what do YOU donate?

                1. I spend several hours a week teaching Scratch [mit.edu] programming to 3rd-6th graders.
                2. I volunteer as a math tutor at my son's elementary school for two hours per week.
                3. I am a member of the "Ten Gallon Club" at the Red Cross blood center (80 one pint donations).
                4. I have written several free educational apps for iPads and Android Tablets, and plan to write many more.
                5. My wife and I funded a scholarship for two Naxi [wikipedia.org] girls to attend a university.

            • what should be done is for most STEM subjects most of the courses should have an available FREE Standard Reference Volume Set which is designed to be used to either Teach the subject or be useful to "PreTeach" a subject. An example for you is Electronics there should be a standard text for AC/DC ,Semiconductor and Digital.

              Also the questions/workbook should always be separate AND AVAILABLE FOR REASONABLE COST.

            • by Immerman (2627577)

              Also worth mentioning that even if no money changes hands it's not necessarily for free - academia if heavily vested in reputation, and having your book be the one that a generation of students learned from is a feather your cap.

          • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Informative)

            by steveha (103154) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @04:09PM (#45718703) Homepage

            Yes, because of course people will do hundreds of hours of work for free.

            It would be deliciously ironic if you used a free software web browser such as Firefox to type the above comment.

            Graduate students and professors need to "publish or perish". I'm hoping that at least some of them will use at least some of their publishing time to write free textbooks.

            And, anyway, people are already writing books and giving them away. Take a look at BookBoon:

            http://bookboon.com/en/textbooks-ebooks [bookboon.com]

            • by murdocj (543661)

              Sure, people give books away. I personally give both things and my time away. But we are talking about a wide variety of textbooks on a wide variety of topics that have to be really professionally produced. It is unreasonable (until the Marxist utopia arrives) to imagine that everything you want is going to be handed to you for free. Sometimes, you just have to exchange something of value for what you want.

              • by steveha (103154)

                The Marxist utopia never will arrive. Communism doesn't work.

                But people do occasionally contribute their time to projects such as Firefox, Linux, or Wikipedia. (All it takes is for their satisfaction to be greater than the perceived costs to them.)

                You don't have to tell me to pay for textbooks I want... I've been buying O'Reilly ebooks like a junkie lately. But there are a lot of kids who could use free textbooks if they were available, and mark my words, people will write those textbooks over time.

                If ev

    • Re:classroom tools (Score:5, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:31PM (#45717557) Homepage

      Which will of course be FAR more expensive than the textbooks were.

      I don't get the impression that e-textbooks ever actually save anybody money as the publishers just jack up the prices.

      I knew someone who worked in a library, and they got all excited about e-books, only to realize they spent about 50% or more of the annual book buying budget to get it set up and get just a half a dozen e-books. They ended up with far far less than if they'd bought traditional books, because they'd have been able to buy hundreds of books for what they spent.

      At the end of the day, it makes more money for the publisher, but a small community library got absolutely burned in the process, and only ended up with a handful of books, and limited benefit

      I can't imagine school boards would fare any better.

      • by plopez (54068)

        And since they are electronic they are so much easier to "Update". Oh, that's the old version. The {school board | stated education department | university managers} no longer certifies your old version. You'll have to get the new version.

      • by number17 (952777)

        At the end of the day, it makes more money for the publisher, but a small community library got absolutely burned in the process

        This sounds like somebody's pet project and the procurement process failed.

    • by pepty (1976012)
      Not so much now that textbooks are becoming a significant source of revenue for schools. At the university level I think students in the US can look forward to being required to purchase a copy of the textbook through a university-approved source if they want to stay registered in the class. Format won't affect the price much at all.
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      I suspect that used textbooks are quite a bit cheaper than new ebooks.

      How would a used ebook market work, I wonder?

  • That's a world of difference, Capacitive or Resistive is the difference between a budget and a usable tablet

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Personally, I would buy a $38 tablet provided it actually worked for a reasonable amount of time (1-2 years), and could do some basic tasks. I don't want to tote around my $500 tablet everywhere I go, but it would be nice to have a cheap device that I didn't care so much if I dropped it, or it got too cold and ceased to function. It doesn't have to be a replacement for the iPad or any other tablet at that price. People will buy an iPad (or similarly high priced tablet, like Galaxy Tab/Note or Surface2), a
    • by morgauxo (974071)

      I miss resistive screens. Sure, multi-touch is nice but being able to draw or write with precision using a pointy stylus or even a finger nail was much more useful. Yeah, I know, there are so-called stylus for capacitive screens. They are so blunt though.. There just isn't any precision possible in a capacitive screen.

      I thought it might be nice to combine capacitive and resistive sensors in the same screen. It could default to the resistive one for precision until it detects a second touch then the cap

      • I miss resistive screens. Sure, multi-touch is nice but being able to draw or write with precision using a pointy stylus or even a finger nail was much more useful. Yeah, I know, there are so-called stylus for capacitive screens. They are so blunt though.. There just isn't any precision possible in a capacitive screen.

        The way you do this properly is by adding a digitizer to that capacitive screen. There are numerous products that do so (e.g. Galaxy Note), and that give you all the advantages of both capacitive touch, and of a precise stylus.

        • I don't know if it was the crap hardware (it was Samsung, after all) or the crap software (it was a Samsung OEM Android, after all), but my experience with the Galaxy Note tablet was less than stellar, and they used, IIRC, a Wacom digitizer. For some reason, though, new out of the box, it suffered from horrible input lag.

          Okay, I'll be fair. It was "bad" input lag which was graduated to "horrible" in the face of the $500 price tag.
          Ended up returning it, getting a Transformer, and going back to waiting for a

          • Most digitizer issues are on the software side, and the problem with Android is that it's not actually designed with pen input in mind, so Samsung has to add their own hacks to the system to add support - and they're notoriously bad at modding Android.

            Anyway, Note is just an example - it seems that digitizer is becoming par for the course for the new Win8.1 tablets, even the budget ones (like Dell Venue 8), which is a nice trend. And Win8 actually has proper pen input support, both as a standard input metho

      • by nurb432 (527695)

        You want an accurate stylus.. Ever hear of Samsung?

  • by sporkboy (22212) <maddogNO@SPAMjerky.net> on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:20PM (#45717427) Homepage

    After MS clears you out for an XB One, you can buy a cheap tablet for their Smartglass "second screen" app.

  • Always late (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:25PM (#45717491) Journal

    Datawind is always late to the party. They make big annoucements about incredibly inexpensive items years in the future to generate interest. Then by the time they're actually selling something, everyone else has passed them by. Even now, you can pickup a tablet with similar specs from walmart for $50. By the time we see any DW tablets on the shelves, several companies will be selling $40 tablets, or better.

  • Economies of scale I suppose...
  • Picture every nurse in a hospital with one in their pocket. Picture 3rd graders taking spelling tests with these. Picture every coffee-shop waitress with one. Picture these replacing smart thermostats and TV remotes, anything with a reasonably sophisticated (i.e. > on/off) UI.
    • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:38PM (#45717633)

      Picture them all with a device made by someone else.

      • The manufacturer/specs don't matter nearly as much as the $38 price point. THAT'S the big deal here.
        • by mythosaz (572040)

          The price point of the device isn't the factor for adoption of devices in clinical settings - it's doing "simple" tasks like making sure they're secure and audit-able.

          Your auditors don't like, "The vendor said it's safe," or "We probably didn't lose any."

          • Also things like "has the screen got high enough contrast that I can tell a tumour from a not-a-tumour?"

            (not that I'd expect these to be primary diagnostic devices, but still)

        • The manufacturer/specs don't matter nearly as much as the $38 price point. THAT'S the big deal here.

          Hardly. being able to do the work and reliability are what's important in the settings you originally described. These things are cheap, and they are going to be cheap in all the bad ways besides price also. There are already tablets out there that are cheaper. Using these rather than something more expensive will cost more money in the time it takes for them to complete work (assuming they can even do the work) than spending the extra time. Breakdowns and replacements are also a consideration in the profes

  • by mark-t (151149)
    Okay... the price per square inch is great... now just make one with a 14" diagonal (ie, about a4 or letter size) with the same resolution and at the same cost per square inch (so about $160 or so for the tablet) and I'll be all over it like maple syrup on pancakes.
  • Garbage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilsaloving (1534307) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:37PM (#45717615)

    I've purchased two barrel-bottom-scraping androids so far (not this model), with the expectation that that should be able to satisfy very basic needs like ebook reading.

    I was wrong.

    These 'landfill android' devices garbage in every possible way. Battery life is so poor that you can't even even expect it to last a day on stand by. Yet performance is so poor that you have to wait a good several minutes just for the damn thing to boot up, so forget about quickly pulling it out while on the bus to read a few pages.
    And the wifi is so bad that it can't pick up a signal unless you have a router in the very same room, and even then you somehow don't get full bars.

    The only use I can see for this class of devices, is in BDSM scenarios:

    Master - Check my email, slave!
    Slave - Yes Master, thank you master! Oh, I can't connect to the server!
    Master - Are you telling me that you're failing me, you miserable wretch?
    Slave - Nuh Matha! Ih I puf mah tong oh he corneh, wifi worgs!
    Master - Good slave! Now play Words With Friends!
    Slave - *whimper*

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @02:45PM (#45717701)

      Devices like these, and the equivalent devices in the phone arena, help keep Android "market share" figures nice and plump!

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      LOL, my brother bought something in that family ... when you turned it off, the clock stopped, so it never had the slightest idea of what the time was unless you set it every time you turned it on.

      And, as you said, it had horrible battery life, was seriously underperforming, flaky wifi, and was generally not very good.

      Granted, that was a few years ago, but one does worry about these low-end devices and just how useful they'll actually be.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)

        when you turned it off, the clock stopped, so it never had the slightest idea of what the time was unless you set it every time you turned it on.

        So does the Raspberry Pi, but those seem to be selling quite well, and people are quite pleased with them. I have enough devices that can tell me the time. Sure it would be nice if it kept proper time, but I don't see how that's essential to many of the things you may want to use a tablet for. The GameBoy doesn't have a clock either. Didn't stop us from having

        • The GameBoy doesn't have a clock either. Didn't stop us from having tons of fun playing games on it.

          That's because they had to put the clock in the cartridge. Games that make heavy use of the clock, such as Animal Crossing, had to wait for the DS that had its own clock.

          If it can do games, reading, and play videos, none of which require a clock, or even network connectivity

          A reliable clock is needed for making sure that the (agreed-upon) rental period for your rented video hasn't expired.

    • FWIW, I bought some of the $59 units NoMoreRack is selling (for video chat between grandparents and kids) and aside from a terrible viewing angle on the screen, they're no worse than my 3 year old phone. Wifi seems fine, boot time is reasonable, Hangouts works, Netflix is claimed to work.

    • I visualized that as badly captioned tumblr pr0n and was highly amused.
    • I had a generic Android tablet (with jellybean) before I bought my Asus Fonepad.
      The only showstopper was battery life. Everything else was perfectly acceptable and it was an absolute breeze to root.
      But the battery life was pretty dreadful -- an *absolute maximum* of 5 hours with all connectivity disabled and minimum brightness screen, whereas the Asus runs all day and night without even thinking about those things.

  • well...if $38 is too rich for your blood..there is always this..

    http://www.dhgate.com/product/lenovo-lepad-a2207-lenovo-idea-tab-a2207a/178135882.html#s1-14-1 [dhgate.com]|1005834550 ...AND it's Lenova!

  • Amazon's selling Kindles today for just $49

    http://www.beyond-black-friday.com/2013/12/17/amazon-discounts-kindles-to-49/ [beyond-black-friday.com]

    Granted it's a one-day Christmas promotion, but it just shows they can drop prices pretty low. (Especially since they're hoping to make it all back with ebook sales...)
  • There have been $30 tablets available in Shentzen for a year. Most have an Allwinner ARM SOIC, which is a very cheap part yet quite powerful. It costs $1100 to move an entire shipping container from Shentzen to Los Angeles. Not clear what the hold-up has been.

    Tablets will be sold in bubble-packs at the drugstore.

    • Not clear what the hold-up has been.

      Patents perhaps? Microsoft owns exclusive rights in the FAT file system and Exchange protocol. That and possibly import duties, which in some countries are known to exceed 100% of the declared value.

  • The One Laptop Per Child project should change its focus from hardware to software. Whether this tablet is suitable for kids, or some other tablet, they can count on inexpensive Android tablets being available.

    Could kids use these things for reading textbooks? Yes. Could kids run educational software that drills them on math and other subjects? Yes. Could kids even watch movies, look things up on Wikipedia, learn to touch-type with a USB or Bluetooth keyboard? Yes, yes, yes. Tablets like these are ad

    • If well olpc has released tablets already for learning mayor be not the best option, they are mainly content comsumption devices, not so much for creation as school children need (at least, not all kinds, specially if involves writting).

      Also, better that they can work for 4+ hours on battery, cheap tablets are not great in that area.

  • Alibaba is filled with tablets retailing for this sort of price. I assume Datawind just made a bulk purchase and is selling them for a small margin.
  • Tablets are just big smart phones. Bigger allows for a bigger screen and bigger (longer lasting) battery.

    800x480 was a mid-range phone more than three years ago. Mid range and high range phones have more pixels now.

    It is possible that this device has a decent battery but, at $50,I'm skeptical of that too. So, why should anyone buy this tablet instead of a three year old smart phone on eBay?

  • ...the kind that starts out regarded by the established players as almost a joke, who ignore it because its not what the important customers are asking for, just some bargain-hunting fools... then the low-end, joke product develops its own specialized market, gradually improves, starts eating the lunch of the big guys, and somehow they fade away.

    The Ford Model Twas regarded as such a piece of junk the "Ford joke" became a genre in itself, and people published entire BOOKS of nothing but Ford jokes. "Does yo

  • by jzarling (600712)
    I didnt see a spec on RAM - anyone know what it ships with? I recently bought a Samsung Centura which has very similar specs as this tablet, and it has left me wanting.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday December 17, 2013 @03:39PM (#45718301)
    It has a MicroSD slot. Funny how only low-end devices are expandable these days.
  • by dgp (11045)

    Whats the industry ratio of circuit boards manufactured per month versus circut boards recycled per month? The eWaste stream is worth thinking about and should be included in the price of electronics. Maybe tablets shouldnt be $38 because so many of them will get thrown away, with their toxic components in a landfill that eventually leaks into the groundwater.

  • Microcenter already sells a $39 Azpen A700 with the exact same specs. What am I missing?

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