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Mobile PC, made in India - for $230 to $350

nabadip - Wed, 11 May 2005 12:18:08 +0530
Mobile PC, made in India


New Delhi, May 10: A new computer that will fit in your lap, cost just Rs 10,000 and sport a “Made in India” tag is on its way. But its price will hinge on how many queue up to buy it.

Bangalore-based Encore Software today launched Mobilis, a mobile desktop, and two variants that will offer typical home and business applications, including word processing, accounting, presentation-viewers, email and Internet-browsing.

Encore has described Mobilis as a lightweight, portable, “anytime, anywhere” computer and says production will begin in three months. But, it said, the market will need to pick up 50,000 units for the products to be sold in the Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 price range.

Encore developed Mobilis under the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research aimed at creating high-impact innovations in India.

The basic Mobilis has a 7.4 inch laptop-like screen, weighs just 750 grams, provides six hours of battery power, and uses a flexible keyboard that can be rolled up.

A variant called SofComp is a compact box-shaped desktop that can be connected to standard displays. Another variant offers wireless modem options. All products can be connected to standard personal computers.

“This is India’s leap into the future of PC technology,” Kapil Sibal, science and technology minister, said at the launch.

The Mobilis project was conceived after a senior Indian computer scientist suggested that a low-cost and multi-functional computer was required as an alternative to standard personal computers.

“Most capabilities in a standard PC remain unused during day-to-day tasks. And the typical PC is designed for planned obsolescence, suitable only for the West’s throwaway culture,” Vinay Deshpande, Encore’s chairman, said.

“Mobilis has no moving parts, no extra software costs for basic functions, and there will be no obsolescence,” Deshpande said.

The systems will have built-in software to support most routine applications in offices, homes and shops. The variants of Mobilis may also be used in cars as dashboard displays and in home automation systems, he said.

But the absence of a hard disk and the use of “flash memory” — the kind used in digital cameras — give the system a relatively lower storage capacity. Large volumes of data would need to be stored on external hard disks or on other computers.

Encore’s earlier product, the Simputer, a low-cost handheld computer widely hailed as a technology marvel, has yet to emerge as a commercial success, analysts have said.

Deshpande conceded that it has taken time for the market to understand the Simputer’s uses, but volumes are now growing.

“With Mobilis, we’ve worked with potential partners before the release of the products,” he said.

A US-based company has announced its interest in using one of the Mobilis variants in a home automation system. It is also being used in REVA, India’s electric car, as its electronic dashboard.

Mobilis uses inexpensive and upgradable open source software.

Shashank Garg, a senior Encore official, said people would not find applications in open source software difficult to handle.

The SofComp desktop when connected to a standard 15 inch cathode ray terminal would cost Rs 10,000. With a more advanced liquid crystal display screen, the price will rise to Rs 15,000.
nabadip - Wed, 11 May 2005 12:39:09 +0530

Vinay L. Deshpande, chairman and chief executive officer of Encore Software, told a press conference the system would have the essential features of a conventional personal computer: everyday applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, personal information manager, e-mail and web-browser. It will play music and movies, have text-to-speech conversion facility and built-in local-language support. For now, Kannada, Hindi, and Marathi; work is in progress on Tamil and Telugu. It will weigh 500 gm and be compact. It can be synchronised with a regular PC, "considering that it [a PC] cannot be wished away.''

It will have no hard disk but will have built-in memory and facility to plug in memory cards for any storage over and above that provided for in the built-in memory. It will not have games. High-speed computing is ruled out. The reasoning is that "while adding to the cost, these are of no use to many users.''

The main aim, Mr. Deshpande said, was to develop a system that was affordable and provided the essential features, "without the unnecessary fluff of the conventional systems.'' The target audience is households, small shops, professionals such as lawyers and chartered accountants, and field staff of pharmaceutical, insurance and other industries. It could be used as e-book readers by educational institutions, for telemedicine and as a nurse's aide.

see more details and photos here:
Madhava - Wed, 11 May 2005 18:53:59 +0530
Their website:

A neat little thing. However the screen is a bit smallish. The hardware specs seem to be a bit hard to find. For example, CPU speed, built-in memory quantity? Is there both built-in Flash memory as well as RAM-memory?

The price, Rs. 10.000, is pretty good for India, considering that a high-end cell phone costs more than that.
nabadip - Thu, 12 May 2005 11:51:59 +0530
Another aspect of using PCs in India is addressed here:

Environmental hazards in city likely if electronic waste is not tackled quickly

Staff Reporter

`As Bangalore is an IT hub, recyclers of e-waste must be involved in the project now before we have a disaster on our hands'

Trouble in store: Electronic waste is going to be a major threat to the environment in the future.

BANGALORE: The increasing number of information technology firms is choking the city under heaps of discarded computers and other electronic waste.

Environmentalists say that over 1,000 toxic gases are released by the burning of the electronic equipment and that the quantities of dioxins, copper and lead found in the soil is 20 times higher than the required level.

The manufacturers, consumers and the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) are now planning to set up a management system to maximise the use of functional components of computers and to ensure clean recovery of valuable components such as gold, silver and platinum. As part of it, a recycling plant will be established.

"We want to ensure complete recycling of all components of the computer. Once we find this model working, we will expand it to other electrical good such as refrigerators and microwaves," said P. Bineesha, Chief Environmental Advisor of the HAWA Project, at an awareness campaign on electronic waste.

It was organised by Max Mueller Bhavan in association with HAWA Project Karnataka to promote the Waste from Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) programme in the city. WEEE is a directive of the European Union on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment and to ensure its proper recycling. Rolf Widmer, project manager for EMPA, a laboratory in Switzerland, said "e-waste is a burning issue that would have serious environmental applications if it is not addressed quickly enough."

The problem, he said, was that there was no organised method to recycle e-waste in most parts of India. As a result, it is burnt with the rest of the garbage.

Drawing from the e-waste programme being implemented in Switzerland, he suggested that Bangalore create a management system that will ensure that the public and industries take part in the recycling process.

While legislation was not essential to the process, he advocated an incentive-based method.

Like in Switzerland, Mr. Widmer said advanced recycling fees could be imposed on the electronic equipment sold in the market. He said Switzerland imposes advanced fees of 0.5 per cent to one per cent of the cost of the electronic equipment. "This ensures that people recycle their waste," he said.

Sanjay Handu, Director of Strategic Sourcing for Tyco Electronics, said that any system to manage e-waste in India has to factor the population size and the large geographical extent of use of the equipment.

It would also be difficult to monitor the quantities of electronic equipment manufactured and those recycled.

"Indians use equipment for really long periods. They use the same computer for eight years by increasing its memory space and going in for upgrades. It will be a challenge to monitor it and develop a databank," he said.

A survey by members of the HAWA Project early this year found that there were 500 recyclers in the city. "As Bangalore is the IT hub of the country, the most recyclers are found here. But we got to get them involved in the activity now before we have a disaster on our hands," said Ms. Bineesha.