The Aakash 2 has visited us this holiday season, and we’re going to paint you a detailed review of the tablet. This educational tool supported by the Indian Government is available in the market with the christening, UbiSlate 7Ci, and is being claimed by its maker to be a lot superior than its predecessor. Now this claim is awfully apparent if you steal a glance at the device’s specifications. But those don’t determine how it’ll behave when you’ve actually bought it, do they? So let us try to put it through its paces, so we can give you a fair idea of what it has in its kitty.
The folks over at Datawind have given the original tablet a successor after just about a year of its release. The government-subsidized initial product emerged as strictly a students affair at the end of the day, but the Aakash 2 is something that is seemingly trying to explore more market space. Offering a ride on the delicious Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS, it certainly manages to incite a second glance, whether you’re looking at its appearance or its specifications.
Outwardly, the 7-inch slate appears to mean serious business with its attractive form factor. Its curved corners enhance its outer shell which is dressed in black. The screen takes up most of the frontal area, but a camera placed right above it doesn’t fail to grab the eye. The thin nature of the tablet is surely a commendable aspect, and at 320gms, it isn’t much weighty as well. Holding it in your claws will never be a displeasing experience, no matter how long you choose to play around with it. The body surface isn’t a bad choice either, as it provides the needed amount of grip while also maintaining the elegance of the slab’s looks.
On its sides, the Aakash houses a few millimeters of flat surface which tapers towards its rear side. The standard Power button that’s present on this fringe requires quite a hard push for it to budge, and moreover there’s its occasionally unresponsive nature which will also get to you at times. Besides this button lies a microUSB port and a 2.5mm charging pin slot which is certainly not a common sight these days. On its left side, this slate carries its volume control keys, a 3.5mm jack and a microSD card slot. Its flipside on the other hand, is occupied mostly by its branding, but a speaker grill nonetheless finds its place near one of the corners. On the whole, the tablet definitely is a nifty piece of machinery on the outside, and this is indeed a big plus for it.
The device is a neat upgrade over its previous avatar, that’s for sure. The first eye-grabber for us on its specs sheet was the Ice Cream Sandwich OS that it has been equipped with. The live notifications and other such characteristics of the operating system are handled well by this tablet which features a 7-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen. Visuals are spewed out in a resolution of 480 x 800p by this display, which is the same as with the original slate. A 1GHz Cortex A8 processor finds place inside the tablet, and considering the fact that the first edition of the initial slab granted a 366MHz chipset and the second version, 700MHz, the leap into the GHz space comes as a welcome change.
The Aakash 2 houses a VGA camera on its front, which is by no means an impressive proposition these days. Datawind has beefed up the internal memory to 4GB from the initial 2GB. And a microSD card slot proffers users an option to enhance it further till up to 32GB. For its Internet connectivity, this product depends upon its Wi-Fi functionality, as 3G is not an option you can associate it with. A league of its own is what this device falls under, for we just cannot compare it with anything in the market, given its incredible pricing.
Let us start with the touchscreen first, as that’s where our major gripe with this slate lies. The inconsistency of this surface is its most unpredictable aspect. Taking a gentle swipe at a particular area on the screen might yield different results two different times. Playing a few rounds of Temple Run was therefore one of the most sour experiences we’ve had with game till now. That’s how hasty things seem to get, and the device’s off-putting viewing angles only add to the aggravation.
The Aakash 2 managed to conjure up a score of 3454 on the AnTuTu Benchmark tool, and if that doesn’t give you an idea of its performance, let us tell you that it’s not something to be stoked about at all. Lags plague the device during screen transitions and also while running heavy applications. Another faulty addition is its accelerometer which faces heaps of problems to alter the orientation of the screen based on how you’re holding it. You cannot expect the battery to serve you for a great deal of time. In fact, the device could only manage to proffer us about two and a half hours of juice in a single complete charge.
Since it’s meant to be an educational tool, we decided to fire up some reading material on the tablet. Notwithstanding the issue of the subpar touch feedback experienced during the flipping of pages, the slate did double up as a decent reader. The white-on-black setting is also able to slightly nullify its wayward viewing angles. On the multimedia front too, the Aakash shows no major disappointment which can be talked about. If you wish to see exactly how basic its camera is, take a look at the image above.
Exteriors exhibit a look and feel that few other cheap products in the market do.
At Rs. 4,499 (and Rs. 1,130 for students), it offers superb value for money.
Ice Cream Sandwich OS gives it an edge in the software department.
Touchscreen is a mess at times, and the resolution is just too low.
Performance issues are felt every now and then.
Battery always has a sword hanging over it.
These cons however can be ignored given the eye-popping price of the slate. The Aakash 2 is miles ahead of its precursor, and that spells great news for all the students who’re in line to receive it through the Government of India. As for the non-students who’re thinking of purchasing it, we’re sure that our observations and 6 on 10 rating will prove to be of help to them.