The first question I asked myself before reviewing two of India’s cheapest tablets was, “Do we really need a tablet?”
To answer that, I used Apple’s new iPad (3), Blackberry’s Playbook and Samsung Note Tab, each for a day. These tablets are some of the most sophisticated ones available in the market, the respective company’s best models, and also a bit costly. I went to such an extremity just to check if these tablets are as effective tools as various companies promise them to be, or are they just a rich man’s toys.
Finally, I came to a conclusion that though tablets can never really replace a laptop, they have a lot of advantages because of their versatility, which makes them productive.
With over 69 million tablets sold in 2011, this new gadget stormed the market like anything, mainly because of its portability and light weight factor. For presentations, watching movies and using applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc. one no longer needs to carry bulky laptops everywhere. With a seven to ten inch display, i.e. almost thrice the display size of an average smartphone, and with sufficiently fast processor and 3G options, tablets have developed a whole new ‘mini smart box’ market for themselves. Some of us have smartphones which can do exactly the same things, but if you ever switch to a tablet and use it for a while, you’ll get used to its larger display. It feels good to browse the internet on a tablet, because of their size and excellent user interface, which operating systems now have built specially for tablets.
Although, I feel that they can never replace a laptop because of a couple of hardware and software issues. A tablet does not have a keyboard and a DVD or a Blue Ray drive. Though tablets have good processors, but till date, not a single tablet has been commercially produced, whose speed is faster than an average laptop. Though Acer and other such computer giants are planning to come up with a Windows 8 tablet platform, which might have an atom processor, but its estimated cost is over 40,000 rupees, which for me, is definitely a big letdown.
So, I was still not convinced enough to buy a tablet for myself, till I learned about these two new low cost tablets, which are not just fast, but cost even less than 5000 rupees: Aakash UbiSlate 2 Tablet and BSNL Penta IS701C Tablet.
Both are quite similar in terms of design, and both have a 7-inch multi-touch capacitive display.
Aakash 2 Tablet has a Cortex A8 800MHz Processor, whereas BSNL’s Penta Tablet has 1GHz A8 Cortex processor. Aakash 2 Tablet comes with 256 MB RAM and 2 GB internal flash memory, whereas BSNL Penta Tablet has 512 MB RAM with 4 GB internal flash memory.
Aakash2 Tablet comes with Android 2.3 Gingerbread, upgradable to Android 4.0 Icecream Sandwich, whereas BSNL Penta Tablet comes with Android 4.0 Icecream Sandwich preloaded.
Both companies claim that their tablets have a battery backup of up to four to five hours. If we see the battery, Aakash 2 Tablet has a 3200 mAh lithium ion battery whereas BSNL Penta tablet has 3000 mAh lithium ion battery.
All basic specifications point to a clear winner, add to that BSNL Penta tablet also has the 3G option via 3G SIM card slot and a HDMI inbuilt port. It also has a G-Sensor, which auto rotates the display for different orientations. BSNL Penta tablet also has a mini-USB port. One can use a 3G Dongle on it, which gives the BSNL Penta tablet a plus point over Aakash 2, if we consider portability. Aakash 2 tablet does not support either 3G Dongle or a 3G SIM card slot, it offers only Wi-Fi connectivity.
Aakash’s previous version Aakash 1 didn’t do well in the market. Though Aakash 1 is still not commercially available, even the ones that were distributed by the Government of India to school and college students didn’t get much positive feedback.
Aakash 2 is not yet commercially available, it has recently been distributed in IIT Bombay, and other people who had booked the product online have been waiting for months now to get hands on it.
BSNL’s Penta Tablet will give a tough competition to Aakash 2 which is the Government of India’s initiative for low cost tablets would help students. Though BSNL Penta Tablet costs a little more than Aakash 2, it’s priced at 4999 rupees and Aakash 2 is commercially priced at 3499 rupees, I think BSNL Penta IS701C will do much better in the market than Aakash 2.
Until one is eligible to buy Aakash 2 tablet at subsidised rates, i.e. for about 2500 rupees, I’ll definitely prefer the BSNL Penta IS701C Tablet.