Move over Kindle Fire—there's a much cheaper tablet in development. India's Education Ministry is set to produce a barebones, Internet-ready tablet device that it's calling the "world's cheapest computer," according to CNN.
The price? A mere $50.
That means you could purchase four of the unnamed (something's written on the bezel, but it's tough to see what it is) Indian tablets for the price of one of Amazon'snew 7-inch Kindle Fire devices, already considered by many to be a bargain at $199 in a market currently dominated by Apple's iPad 2, which starts at a whopping $499 for the entry-level model.
Of course, even at just $50, the Indian tablet isn't really the cheapest working computer in the world—not even in the developing world, where already cheap computers for impoverished students have been subsidized by projects like One Laptop Per Child, just as the Indian Education Ministry says it plans to do with its tablet.
For example, there's this little computer-on-a-stick that's being developed by Britain's Raspberry Pi foundation which the organization says it will be able to deliver into children's hands for as little as $25.
But when it comes to cheap computers that actually look like computers you might use, the Indian tablet is certainly an attractive little number at the price.
Like Amazon's Kindle Fire, it appears to be small enough to fit in one hand (or two, depending on the age of the user). It's Wi-Fi-enabled for connecting to the Internet, and going by CNN's demo video (below), it provides decent-looking video playback. The news network didn't identify the operating system running on the tablet.
It's also got two USB ports, some preloaded apps that include email, and what CNN's Sara Sidner called an "HD screen" that's touch-sensitive, but pretty minimally so, going by Sidner's forceful pushing of the home screen's app buttons and the virtual keyboard keys to get them to work. The clumsiness of the touch interface, which doesn't appear to be gesture-based, isn't too surprising—according to research firm IHS iSuppli's estimates, Amazon is spending $87 just on display and touchscreen hardware for each Kindle Fire—or $37 more than the selling price for the entire Indian tablet.
The ministry plans to hand out the bargain tablet to university students, it seems, though CNN wonders if there might be a private sector play for the device in the future as well.
We're guessing it doesn't have quite enough under the hood and in the OS yet to deliver a tablet experience many U.S. consumers will find attractive, even at $50. On the other hand, $50 for the Internet, email, and video on a decent-sized screen isn't anything to sneeze at.