The 'world's cheapest laptop', developed in India, was unveiled by Union Minister for Human Resources Development Arjun Singh at the Tirupati temple on Tuesday evening.
The laptop, jointly developed by several organisations, such as the University Grants Commission, the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, will be priced at around $10 to $20 (about Rs 500 to Rs 1,000), officials said.
S K Sinha, joint secretary in the ministry for education, giving a demonstration of the device which is smaller than the normal laptop, said that it will need some more fine-tuning. He said the laptop is expected to reach the market in about six months.
Arjun Singh had an interaction with the vice chancellors of the remote states like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur to prove the point that the device will be able to bring about high quality networking among the various institutions of higher education and also increase the skills of e learning of the students in rural areas.
The project has already created a buzz in the laptop industry across the world.
The laptop has 2 GB onboard memory with wireless Internet connectivity. To make it useful for the students, especially in the rural areas, the scientists have made it low power consuming gadget.
The mission was launched at a huge gathering of academicians and the officials from across the country including thirty vice chancellors of central and state universities at the campus of Sri Venkateshwara University Tirupati.
Like the National Mission on Education through ICT, the laptop is also aimed at improving the skills of students, both at the school and higher levels. Under the mission the government also intends to provide high-speed Internet access to the schools to download e-books and e-journals and other material. Students will be able to download the material through the 'Sakshat' portal.
The goal of the national mission is to increase the enrollment in higher education in the country by 5 per cent over the next five years. The government will subsidise 25 per cent of broadband connectivity costs for private and public colleges.
The $10 laptop is being seen as India's reply to One Laptop per Child's XO and Classmate of Intel. The XO, created by scientist Nicholas Negroponte and MIT Media Lab was originally targeted to cost only $100 but by the time it was ready to enter the market its cost went up to $188. The Classmate notebook PC from Intel was priced at $ 300 a piece.
In contrast, the Indian government's effort to market lap top at only $10 has caused a flutter in the international laptop market and many players are curious to know the details of the costing and how Indians managed to keep the cost so low.
Nicholas Negroponte is not fully satisfied with the cost projection. "I fear it is not serious. We'd love a $20 laptop but the display costs more," he was quoted as saying by <EM>Boston Globe</EM>.