$25 Raspberry Pi Mini USB PC and the $22 Aakash Tablet – Computer Adoption on a Budget

As you all know dear, reader, I was torn apart when earlier this year, I discovered Jamaica was ranked  seventy three (73) in the world in the Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011 published by the World Economic Forum (WEO) in terms of Internet Penetration and Usage. I did an expanded article on the subject, aptly titled Jamaica’s Low Net Penetration – Broadband Internet A Universal Right.

More shocking, was the Dr. Hopeton Dunn-led Survey, conducted by the Mona School of Business (MSB) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona concludes that of the 24% of PC owners and 15.6% of households that have Internet access, only 38% access the internet once per day, mainly for FaceBook and Twitter!

They cited the high cost of computers , lack of interest and cost of Internet Access as as the main barriers to Internet Adoption and Usage. My initial diagnosis was Internet Access needed to be made a right, along with Life, Liberty, Freedom of Speech as well as Light and Water, as is the case in Finland.

But what good is a Right, like the above listed, if no one has any interest in excercizing these rights to their benefits? Back to square one, said the Cheshire Cat, with his smile the only trace that he was mocking my idea…….

Since then, I have written a slew of articles, with the hopes or raising awareness of the Usefulness of the Internet beyond just FaceBook and Twitter, its addictive poison that colours Wireless Internet Access as a haven for Social Networking haven as opposed to a vehicle for individuals to make financial gain, West Indies Cricket Style.

I wrote of the dangers of Social Prostitution in my article Social Network Prostitution: FOMO drives Millennials to “Inboxing” and the issues driving its pervasiveness among young people, my first few singles in my innings on this most pertinent of issues.

The follow on then ensued, as I was still “not out” with a “6” on my scoreboard with another article entitled “Jamaica’s 100MBps Internet Silver Lining – Tele-commuting Workplace is coming” in which I pointed that, like it or not, with the expansion of Telecom Provider’s Wired and Wireless Networks, Tele-commuting and Flexi-work are eventualities, with formal business arrangements being natural casualties.

I am no prude. I soon skated in a couple 4’s with an article entitled Social Media Marketing – Advertising and Marketing in Ja on a Shoe-String on – you guessed it! –  Social Media Marketing and how companies can use it to cost effectively market their products and also perform PR (Public Relations) on a shoestring budget.

Social Networking, I reasoned, is not so bad seeing as this may be the main vehicle for advertising in a future world that appears to be heavily Social Networking and LBS (Location Based services) oriented, but most corporate enterprises appear to be unable to “cross it”.

My piece de resistance was an article Smartphones and Apps – Freemium Games are No. 1 concluded that freelance Developers in Jamaica can best make money from apps by going with a Freemium model, with in-app purchases as the lure to making money as opposed to Premium (paying upfront) apps on smartphones. A little Music Streaming Radio from the Cloud as per my article The Music Industry and the Cloud – Streaming Radio Nirvana was also a great article in the series too.

Back to the Pavillion for Lunch, folks! 100 not out!

So it is nice to know that the difficulties being faced here in Jamaica as it relates to getting Millennials [ages 18 to 28] to see computers as more than just “toys” for Social Networking is not restricted to Jamaica alone. In England, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, a group with a philanthropic spirit dedicated to making computer accessible to those who cannot afford the cost of a full-blown computer system, developed a radical new design for a computer.

This is in the same spirit that drove Nicholas Negroponte principal of the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s) Media Lab (2005) to debut theUS$100 One Laptop Per Child Program to get children in Third World Countries access to computers. Success is limited, most notably in Bolivia, where in some cases, children, have learned to read via the use of these devices and turned around and taught their children.

Their idea?

Use the architecture of a USB Thumb Drive to make a 35 Watt PC not only a little bigger and costing only US$25. It takes advantage of the fact that most people are more likely to have a television set by 2015AD with HDMI or other ports for IPTV and Web TV, effectively making the TV set the screen. A fact which my article on Web Television sets Web-enabled Television Sets Sales Rise – The Apple Television cometh supports.

Raspberry Pi Mini USB PC

The Thumb Drive-sized PC, dubbed the Raspberry Pi, runs on a Linux Distribution and sports the following specs:

  • 700MHz ARM11
  • 128MB of SDRAM
  • SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot with a SD Card as the Hard-Drive
  • USB 2.0
  • Composite and HDMI video output
  • Supports 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode output
  • OpenGL ES 2.0
  • Open software (Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, Python)

Production on this bit of electronics wizardry has started with shipments slated for November of 2011AD.

Equally interesting has been the strides of the Government of India in making Tablets accessible to students at subsidized prices to get Millennials used to the technology since July 2010AD.

Again, like the Raspberry Pi Foundation, their drive is not just computer literacy, but to get the next generation of Indian IT Engineers used to the idea of a Tablet as the new device in this “Post-PC era” as per the words of the late Apple CEO cum Chairman Steve Jobs.

Back then, in the shadow of the First generation Apple iPad launch, the Indian Tablet made its debut at a price of US$35. The Government of India has since then solicited the help of DataWind, a company based in the United Kingdom to mass produce the Tablets, which the purchase in bulk for roughly 2,250 rupees or US$49, roughly about one hundred thousand (100,000) and resells them for 1,100 rupees or US$22 to students lacking access to Computers and Internet.

Aakash Tablet

The budget Tablet, sporting the brand name “Aakash”, normal retails for US$60 in the UK and like the Raspberry Pi is curiously sparse on specs:

  • Connexant Processor with graphics accelerator and HD Video processor.
  • 256MB RAM
  • 2GB SD Card expandable to 32GB
  • USB Port
  • 7-inch Screen with 800×400 resolution, resistive touch screen
  • Wi-Fi and 2G GPRS modem
  • 180 minutes run time
  • Android 2.2

Though both the Raspberry Pi and Aakash Tablet are barebones specs and questionable performance, they are a start towards reducing Computer Illiteracy and the lack of access to computers. This will be a big issue when the Telecom Providers LIME, Digicel and Triple Play Provider FLOW finish the build-out of their HSDPA+ Release 7 compatible Networks as per the article LIME, Digicel and FLOW – Leading the Global 4G Adoption Curve by the year 2015AD.

Thus the Government of Jamaica, specifically the Ministry of Education, may be wise to adopt this strategy of accessing low cost computer alternatives such as the Raspberry Pi and the Aakash Tablet for students to purchase and take home in order to do their homework, thereby negating the cost barrier of access to computers.

These gadgets represent the future of both the PC and the Tablet in the now eminent “Post-PC era” as per my article Are we witnessing Laptop and PC Extinction? and may even be their low cost replacements, as the Netbook had its origins with the One Laptop per Child Program with the Asus Eee Netbook.

The following two tabs change content below.
Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.


Comments are closed.