Economy-class tablets2 min read . Updated: 12 Apr 2011, 10:03 PM IST
The first-generation iPad was officially launched in India at the end of January, a full 10 months after it was first announced, and a mere month before its sequel, iPad 2, was unveiled at an Apple event in San Francisco, US.
Time may not be on India’s side, but if a recent roster of launches is anything to go by, price definitely is.
The iPad and its closest big-brand rivals, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Dell’s Streak, retail for a small premium over their US price in dollars—between ₹ 22,000 and ₹ 40,000, depending on the model.
The first tablet launched specifically for the India market, the Olivepad, has slipped to ₹ 19,530. Online retailer Infibeam.com sells a tablet called the Phi, available in both Android and Windows CE, for ₹ 14,999. While not exactly a “portable tablet", Hewlett-Packard (HP) launched an 18.5-inch desktop touch-screen slab called the DreamScreen 400 for ₹ 19,999. It runs a modified version of the Linux Operating System, and comes preloaded with a choice selection of apps.
Now, computer maker HCL Infosystems is launching a set of 7- and 10-inch tablets called the ME series, which start at ₹ 14,990.
“We are aware that the market is competitive, and believe that just standard global applications will not work in India," says Rothin Bhattacharya, HCL’s executive vice-president. “We intend to introduce a suite of customized and localized content to address the needs of our customers." HCL’s tablets will run version 2.2 of Google’s Android operating system, with a custom interface on top. At the moment, this “customized content" includes local maps, apps for streaming Indian movies, astrology and Indian Railways timetables. The tablet also claims to have “one-touch" access to a 24-hour customer service called HCL Touch. The entry-level HCL ME AE7 runs on an 800 Mhz processor and weighs 400g. The most expensive in the series is the HCL ME AP10, which sports a 1 Ghz processor and 16 GB of internal memory. All have the usual set of features one expects from a tablet—Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and accelerometers. They will be available first in Delhi, at electronic stores and HCL showrooms, and then across the country by month-end.
“India is warming up to tablet PCs," says Ernest Sim, Creative’s regional sales manager. “The market today stands at around 25,000 units a quarter but is expected to grow exponentially." The ZiiO is part of Creative’s new “wireless ecosystem", a set of wireless devices that include a wireless speaker set, headphones and entertainment decks. “The idea behind the tablet is mobility," Sim says. “We want to bring personal entertainment beyond the confines of a single room to the whole house."
The Creative ZiiO is available in a 7-inch model (in white, with a resolution of 480x800) and standard 10-inch (in black, with a resolution of 1024x600). Both models come in 8 GB and 16 GB variants, and ship with a leather case. They run Android version 2.2, but an update to Gingerbread is “under way", says Sim. They come bundled with Creative’s own apps for higher audio fidelity, called X-Fi.