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Handhelds Hardware

India Officially Launches Simputer 197

aravind writes "The Communications and IT Minister, Pramod Mahajan, has launched India's indigenously developed low-cost handheld Personal Computer -- Simputer -- at an IT and Communication expo, SMAU 2002, in Milan. A low-cost handheld PC on GNU/Linux working through a browser for international markup language IML, priced at Rs9000 (less than $200). 200Mhz StrongArm processor, 32MB DRAM, 24 MB flash, touchscreen, speakers, USB, text-to-speech, MP3 capability ... " Look here for some of the previous stories we've run on the Simputer.
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India Officially Launches Simputer

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  • Another PDA Device? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by raydobbs ( 99133 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @05:22AM (#4540638) Homepage Journal
    Why do we need another PDA device, exactly? I mean, yes, it uses Linux - but so does the Sharp Zaurus (sp?), and has had the kinks worked out of the mix more... Is this a case of India just wanting to say 'Me Too!'?
  • by rovingeyes ( 575063 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @05:28AM (#4540657)
    Well, even though the average monthly salary might be low, you are forgetting the point that even if 2% of more than a billion population plan to buy (believe me there are people india who are filthy rich) it'd be lot more than the simputer guys could hope for. Certainly you can look at it this way - IT IS A START!

  • Re:wOOt (Score:1, Interesting)

    by amentia ( 142487 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @05:33AM (#4540668) Homepage
    ok. got the first non-troll post, now I can explain my question.

    What's the avarage monthly wages of an indian?
    Is it really that cheap?
  • by kfishy ( 534087 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @05:53AM (#4540702)

    One would think that with at least 500 million people literate, Simputer ought to have some use to the general population. I mean, 52% is quite big to qualify as "elite", wouldn't you think? Remember that this is only a very tiny step in the right direction to solve a really big and widespread problem (actually two, poverty and literacy :P).

    Also, Hindi speech recognition is not necessary harder to do than French or English. The difficulty of a language to typical Europeans is usually not an important factor in speech recognition. In fact, with so many phonetic and grammatical irregularities, English is probably one of the most difficult language (widely in use, of course) to be analysed/zed systematically.

    And rest assured that this is definitely not a screwed up time consuming and money wasting project by the Big Evil And Corrupted Government (TM). Oooh no.

  • Finally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by abhikhurana ( 325468 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @06:08AM (#4540727)
    So finally the simputer has been launched. But that doesn't mean it works flawlessly. Until about 2 months ago, they had some problems with their text to speech software, dhvani, and they were planning to go for a closed source solution from another indian company.
    Now for some of teh concerns raised in the article, as usual about average India salary and stuff like that. The aim of the project is not that every peasent should own a Simputer of his own. In India, in villages u have small committees which are elceted by the villagers, and these committes are allocated some budget by the government. So the idea is that every committee buys one Simputer and then the villagers can simply use thier own compact flash card if atall required. I mean its use was forseen in making weather prediction services and agricultural help availaible to the farmers. For that you dont need ur compact flash. If you want advanced services, then u can buy one, but then compact flash cards are not all that expensive.
    As far as the Indian middle class is concerned, currently they account for around 40% of the population. Not all of them will feel the need of buying something like this, but they very well can. That is 400 million people.
    I am just waiting for a review now. Maybe I will get one in December and write one myself. I enjoy working on stronARM and I think it will be interesting to hack this thing.

  • by jukal ( 523582 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @06:16AM (#4540742) Journal
    Although the featureload of the Simputer is quite convinving, the main point is that this is now obviously the first truly open hardware project to have actually entered the martket. Let's see if it opens the floodgates....In the future, however, the featureload might be even more impressive as the open HW approach surely enables fast and cost-effective development.
  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @06:29AM (#4540767) Journal

    Your message's title "IT doesn't replace education" is indeed very striking, considering that the government of Malaysia - a fifth-rate country, mind you - is on the path of REPLACING education with IT.

    Specifically, the Prime Minister of Malaysia has commented on several accounts that,

    "The teachers are mere facilitators. The main point
    is the computers, where the students learn from. The
    teachers just _help_ out if any problem arises."

    Dunno what will happen to the children in fifth rate countries such as Malaysia.

  • Simputer/Literacy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Omkar ( 618823 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @06:33AM (#4540771) Homepage Journal
    An issue that's been raised here is the uselessness of the Simputer to an illiterate population. Couldn't the Simputer use its text/speech capabilities to teach people to read? This would eliminate two huge problems with one stroke.
  • simputer beowulf? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dincubus ( 526920 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @08:08AM (#4540884) Homepage
    well on first pass it does have usb connections so potentially you could use nics of that nature. but the memory seems a tad small for somehow loading all the mpi and pvm needed for a beowulf. it would just be interesting to see if someone would be crazy enough to try that :) but then again i never thought anyone would try to use liquid nitrogen to cool their machine
  • by Meorah ( 308102 ) on Sunday October 27, 2002 @08:12AM (#4540892)
    After all, that's where all your jobs are going... might as well have a few laughs before you find yourself back in college either getting a masters in CS or another BS in Mgmt or Finance.

    http://www.bigates.com/html/Pdf's/Benefits%20of%20 the%20company%20you%20keep.pdf [bigates.com]

    I can't believe how many of you goofs actually think India is some 3rd world country. Just because they have a very large proportion of farmers and field labor who live off their own sweat and blood doesn't mean there aren't a ton of wealthy people, especially in the cities.

    In addition, did any of you einsteins think that perhaps they'll be selling this device in Europe (where it was unveiled), Asia, or god-forbid, N. America? Yeah, I'm sure all the poor people in the good ole U S of A will have to take out a 3rd mortgage to get their hands on one of these badboys... what with spending their life savings building beowulf clusters and all...

  • by vsync64 ( 155958 ) <vsync@quadium.net> on Sunday October 27, 2002 @09:12AM (#4540981) Homepage
    What use whould such people have for a computer ? [...] So these people would be able to buy for a 2 years wages a high-tech doorstopper.

    Don't underestimate people, even poor brown people [geocities.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 27, 2002 @12:26PM (#4541694)
    Much of the basic sciences (Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry) were developed/discovered in different parts of the world.

    So going by your definition IBM did not indigenously build the PC. (After all they did not invent the concept of 1s and 0s)
  • by wagadog ( 545179 ) on Monday October 28, 2002 @05:55AM (#4546005) Journal
    At the following spec (from their FAQ)
    • CPU 32-bit Strong Arm SA-1100 RISC CPU running at 200MHz
    • 32 MB of DRAM
    • 24 MB Flash for Permanent Storage (DOC)
    • Display I/F 320x240 Monochrome LCD Display Panel
    this is like four times the vax 11/750 the University of Chicago's astrophysics department used to run astrophysics and geophysics simulations on, format scientific papers in TeX, and process star catalogs. Hmm. This was a department of twenty some-odd faculty, and dozens of graduate students.

    So, if anybody makes a USB-based multiple tty device (say 16 RS232 ports that talk to tty01, tty02, tty03...) and figures out that old terminals are free (heck people will pay you to haul 'em away!) I'd say one of these babies would be enough to teach linux/unix shells, C programming, TeX, LaTeX, C++, maple, NCAR graphics, Tek 4140 graphics, maple, numerical analysis, tcp/ip networking at the sockets level up through the application level... to a whole village. At once.

    that is if they're not too busy playing nethack...

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court