Aakash tablet
Indian students with the Aakash tablet reuters

India, the maker of the world's cheapest car, has come up with yet another feat with what is claimed to be the world's cheapest tablet computer.

The Canadian-based company DataWind is selling the first units of the tablets to the Indian government for $50 each. After a pilot run of 100,000 units for free, the government aims to sell them to students for $35 next year. A retail version will be sold in Indian shops for about $60, Reuters reported.

In comparison, the cheapest Apple iPad tablet costs $499, while the recently announced Kindle Fire will sell for $199. The rich have access to the digital world, the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide, said Indian Telecom and Education Minister Kapil Sibal.

The Android 2.2-based device has 2 GB SD memory card with a mini and full USB port, a 32 GB expandable memory slot, 256 MB of RAM, a miniSD card and a SIM card slot. The Wi-Fi-enabled device is expected to give some of the more costly tablet computers a run for their money as it offers Internet browsers, PDF reader, video conferencing facilities, open office, sci-lab, media player, remote device management capability, multimedia input-output interface option and multiple content viewer.

Aakash uses resistive LCD displays rather than a full touch screen and connects via wireless broadband. The future versions of the device would include a mobile phone connection, making it more useful in rural areas, according to DataWind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli.

Similar to Amazon's Kindle Fire, Aakash is also small enough to fit in one hand. It also provides a decent-looking video playback. It also has a color screen and supports video conferencing.

The intent is to start a price war. Let it start, the Associated Press quoted DataWind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli saying. As for the $10 goal, let's dream and go in that direction. Let's start with that target and see what happens, he said.