Coming next year: A $38 tablet

A London company is already selling the device, called the UbiSlate 7Ci, on its website.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 17, 2013 2:27PM
UbiSlate 7Ci tablet (Courtesy of Datawind)By Nathan Olivarez-Giles, The Wall Street Journal

On Monday, Datawind announced that it plans to sell a $38 tablet (pictured) in the U.S. through as-yet unnamed online and brick-and-mortar retailers early next year. 

The London firm plans to sell three models in the United States ranging in price from $38 to as much as $149 with varying specs and capabilities.

The goal, says Suneet Singh Tuli, Datawind’s CEO, is the same as it’s always been: to bring the least expensive computers possible to schools and low-income communities.

"Affordability shouldn’t be the reason people can't get on the Internet," Tuli said in an interview. "We want to specifically reach a customer base that right now is not on the Internet." According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of American adults don’t use the Internet.

Tuli says he wants to sell them devices, but also reach children who have limited access to the Web, or no connectivity at home.

"In India, the average person earns $200 to $300 a month and about 13% of people have Internet access," Tuli said. "It’s easy to criticize our devices based on specs. But prices like this can be liberating in places like that, and there are places in the U.S where affordable technology can have a similar affect."

Tuli declined to specify sales figures in India, but said that over the past year they have outstripped iPad sales there.

Datawind's tablets won’t impress anyone with their performance or design. In fact, a major reason why they're so cheap is that the components inside are outdated by today's computing standards, making them relatively inexpensive to use in manufacturing, Tuli said.

The $38 UbiSlate 7Ci tablet, running on Google's (GOOG) Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, features a 1-gigahertz , single-core processor (the sort of CPU found in the first-generation iPad introduced in 2010). 

Just 4 gigabytes of storage is built in, although microSD card slots are included for those looking for more space to store apps and media. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800×480 pixels, which is a far cry from the HD displays found on Apple's (AAPL) iPad, Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus devices.

But, specifications aren’t the point -- access is, Tuli argues. "The power of the Internet is frankly essential in taking societies to the next level, in equipping young people to be able to even make it in the work force," he said. "We can’t afford to have people who grow up without the Internet."

Datawind’s $38 tablet is available now on the company’s website and it will be available through more retailers next year after the Consumer Electronics Show in January, which takes place in Las Vegas, Tuli said. 

The hardware maker will also sell a $100 version of its tablet, called the UbiSlate 7C+, that ships with 1 year of free web browsing over old Edge networks (the same cellular technology that 2007’s first-generation iPhone connected to).

At the top of the company’s lineup will be the UbiSlate 3G7, that runs on 3G networks with free unlimited Web browsing, for $150. The UbiSlate 3G7 features a dual-core processor and will run Google’s Android 4.1 Jelly Bean software, which was released more than a year ago. The data to power Datawind’s free web browsing promise will come from little known pre-paid carrier Red Pocket Mobile.

More from The Wall Street Journal

Dec 17, 2013 3:05PM
I swear someone could make a full time job out of editing MSN.  link headline "Company selling $38 laptop"   Real story a $38 TABLET next year.  Not that big of a deal seeing as how you can buy a generic tablet now for $60
Dec 17, 2013 3:04PM
Instead of a chicken in every pot it is now a tablet in every hand.....from then to now!
Dec 17, 2013 3:23PM
Whose service provider are they planning on the user getting their connection from?
Dec 17, 2013 3:57PM
Tech snobs can not imagine anyone wanting this device, but they also can not imagine living on less than $300 a month. It's all relative. BTW, I'm writing this on an hp touchpad with android ICS and it works just fine for me.
Dec 17, 2013 4:59PM
Finally, a division of the NSA finds the right price point so no one is left out.
Dec 17, 2013 6:06PM
Either we are ignorant or arrogant, any wonder technology world wide is ahead and dime cheap (oh it  should read damn)  Wake up fellow Americans our honeymoon phase is over. Few guys holding shinny tablets and iPhones does not reflect WHOLE AMERICA.
Dec 17, 2013 4:22PM
So what does this thing do?  Some guy in India earning 200 per month can now surf the web and see all the stuff he doesn't have?
Dec 17, 2013 3:58PM
all well and fine but if the user they are targeting, low income, cant afford interent then its no good
Dec 17, 2013 6:20PM
If it has Windows 8......they can keep it.
Dec 17, 2013 4:23PM
@ $38 US, Roland Gayslinger would still not be able to afford one.
Dec 17, 2013 10:17PM
"So many idiots and so little time to teach them all"
Dec 17, 2013 4:57PM
Just bought a $49 tablet from Walmart's black friday sales
Dec 18, 2013 2:43PM

Buy it here and you can do it now, just as the headline says:

Coming next year: A $38 tablet

A London company is already selling the device, called the UbiSlate 7Ci, on its website

Dec 17, 2013 5:46PM
If memory serves correctly, I bought a network card or something like that from Datawind and it didn't work. Hope they are making their products better.
Dec 17, 2013 5:43PM
CLASSIC....Article about Under Armor on top page...
Dec 17, 2013 5:02PM

This sounds like an Apple in it's infancy...And bears watching and interest..

But alas is still a private company, with probably well-heeled investors.

75% of the World probably doesn't need Apple or Samsung devices yet...

And keep in mind how Mr. Tuli and Datawind are going to market it, and where. 

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