An Indian laptop priced at just Rs.1,500 ($30) and touted as the world's cheapest will come as a godsend for students for whom it has been specifically designed.
The laptop, unveiled Thursday by Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal, has all the basic features, including a built-in key board, a 2 GB RAM memory, Wi-Fi connectivity, USB ports and is powered by a 2-watt system for use in power deficit areas. The device is likely to be available next year.
The seven and nine inch Linux-based touchscreen gadget can also be run on solar power, besides the battery operated system.
The computing device will support functions like video web conferencing facility, and multimedia content viewing.
The HRD ministry, under whose initiative the computer was designed and developed, hopes to bring down the price to $10 after the device is mass produced.
Accordingly, the ministry is reported to be in discussions with entrepreneurs, private firms and industries.
'If more companies decide to manufacture a similar device, prices will come down automatically,' Sibal said after unveiling the device.
Teams of experts, students and professors drawn from the Indian Institutes of Technology at Kharagpur, Kanpur, Chennai and Mumbai and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, offered their skills and expertise to bring out the device with the HRD ministry.
The low-cost computer fulfils a mission of the union government to provide e-content free to learners under the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology.
The HRD ministry undertook the initiative to develop the computer after meeting with lukewarm response from corporates, by crystallising the concept with the help of a group of IIT professors.
One motherboard was reportedly designed by a student of Vellore Institute of Technology under his B.Tech project and was fabricated at IIT Kanpur. The cost had worked out to Rs.2,209.
Thereafter, the processes of customisation helped reduce the price of the computing device.