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India plans cheap laptop option

3 February 09 10:38 GMT

India says it is planning to produce a low cost gadget intended for use by school children and students.

The storage device has been developed as part of a broader national plan to update the technology used by Indian colleges and schools.

Details are scant, but it is planned to use wireless to connect and have 2GB of memory onboard. Reports of the cost vary from $10 to $100.

Early reports suggesting it would be a laptop did not prove accurate.

Cheap tech

The personal storage device will be part of of India's National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technologies.

Included in the mission is spending on e-books and e-journals for students, development of translation tools, upgrades to educational networks and more PCs for high schools.

Much of the e-learning work will be co-ordinated via the Shaksat web portal, on which students can register and which they can then use to monitor their progress.

Early reports, which suggested it was a laptop, put a price tag of 500 rupees (£7) on it. Official reports suggest it will now cost twice that at launch but, if it proves popular, then the price may well come down.

Work on the device has been carried out at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras.

Although India has ambitions to develop its own devices others such as One Laptop Per Child's XO machine and the Intel Classmate have been created to serve school children in developing nations.

Originally, the XO was intended to cost $100 but the finished version ended up costing about $188 (£131).

The development of the gadget is the latest in a series of initiatives to create low cost computing devices for Indians. In late 1999, the Simputer hand-held computer debuted and has been used in a variety of projects, including digitising land records.

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