A year after its launch in India, the ultra-affordable UbiSlate 7Ci has made its way to the UK, where it has gone on sale as the cheapest new tablet on the market. Undercutting a range of budget-friendly small tablets that have been launched by leading UK retailers in recent weeks - including Tesco's Hudl (£119), the Argos MyTablet (£100) and Aldi's Medion Lifetab (£80) - the entry-level UbiSlate is now on sale for just £29.99.
Datawind's entry-level UbiSlate 7Ci
The cheapest model is in fact one of three UbiSlate tablets that British manufacturer Datawind is launching in the UK. The company was commissioned by the Indian government to realise its vision for the "world's cheapest tablet", aimed at students, which it launched at the end of 2011 as the 'Aakash'. While the tablet was designed in the UK, Datawind's CEO insisted that it was "a 'made in India' product, with the screen coming from a South Korean company, and the chip from a US company", and that assembly of the devices took place in India.
A year later, a second version of the Aakash was launched, and Datawind announced that the devices would also be available for the general public to purchase - and not just students - with UbiSlate branding.
The UbiSlate 7Ci is the cheapest model, and is unchanged from the Aakash 2 that launched a year ago. Priced in the UK at just £29.99, it features WiFi connectivity, along with a 7-inch capacitive-touch LCD (800x480px resolution), 4GB of onboard storage (plus a microSD slot), 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB of RAM and a front camera, running on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. The UbiSlate 7C+ adds 2G EDGE connectivity to that package, for £69.99.
The UbiSlate 3G7, with rear camera
The Ubislate 3G7 is the flagship - so to speak - of the bunch, with a higher-resolution 1024x600px display, a 1.2GHz processor and a rear camera, which Datawind shows a picture of on its website, yet makes no mention of on the spec sheet. It also includes 3G HSDPA connectivity in addition to WiFi, all for £129.99, which makes it more expensive than the Kindle Fire HD - although the Amazon tablet does not include cellular connectivity.
The Datawind site also says that the UbiSlate 7Ci and 3G7 both include "1 year of unlimited basic mobile internet", but offers no details on the exact terms of this offer. All three devices are said to have a battery life of around three hours.
As Pocket-lint reports, Datawind has seen considerable success with its tablets in India, selling 10,000 of them a day in the first quarter of this year. The company is keen to replicate that success elsewhere and its CEO, Suneet Singh Tuli, sees the UK as ideally suited to its devices. "With recent figures showing that, in the UK, 29% of the poorest households have no computer and 36% no internet," he said, "we're working to bring affordable technology to the many hundreds of thousands of households excluded from benefiting from the digital revolution."
All three devices are available to purchase now in the UK from Datawind, and Engadget reports that they will also be launching in the United States, priced from just $38, although the company has not yet committed to a US launch date.