Proving that if something sounds too good to be true that it probably is, India's so-called $20 laptop is not really a laptop at all. Called the Sakshat (which means "before your eyes"), the device was revealed on the third to a lot of fanfare worldwide on the 3rd, along with some well-deserved skepticism.
Little in the way of pictures, video, or hard specifications came out of the event, but FastCompany.com brought us one particularly disappointing image.
Where's the screen you ask? How about a keyboard? Keep looking, because you're not going to find one in this little box-o'-hype. This is a 2GB storage drive with wired and wireless networking capabilities. Apparently the government has partnered with textbook publishers to load educational content on these machines. Great. Engadget sums things up quite nicely:
You know what was missing from the so-call "unveiling" of India's $10 laptop yesterday? Photos. Now we think we know why. The $10 laptop is not a laptop at all, the display-less and keyboard-less prototype device demonstrated is just a 10 x 5-inch wide slab that stores (and apparently prints) distributed learning materials which can later be retrieved by an impoverished child... using a laptop and paper he can't afford to purchase.
It turns out this was hype that would put Nicholas Negroponte to shame from government officials up for re-election, not the beacon of hope for a country looking to solve its educational and economic problems. So many of the talkbacks to my article this week were from Indians confident in their country's ability to create something along the lines of an ultra-cheap computing device. All I can say is make sure you defeat anyone who supported Secretary for Higher Education, R. P. Agarwal, in the upcoming elections.