Cheap Laptops: It's Bangladesh's Turn

India isn't the only nation building low-cost computers. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday introduced the Doel, an inexpensive, Android-based laptop priced as low as 10,000 taka (US $130), the BBC reports.

Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS), Bangladesh's state-owned telecom company, will produce four models of the Doel, which will initially go to government officials. The long-term goal, however, is to distribute the low-cost laptops to tens of millions of students in the South Asian nation.

The computer is named after the doel, or magpie robin, which is Bangladesh's national bird.

According to ITProPortal, the Doel's specs are pretty much what you'd expect from a $130 laptop. The "primary model" features an 800MHz VIA 8650 processor, 512MB RAM, 16GB flash memory, Wi-Fi, and a 10.1-inch (1024x600) LCD screen, webcam, SD card reader, and two USB ports.

By comparison, India's much-touted tablet, which may cost as little as US $35, has a 7-inch (800-by-480) display, 256MB RAM, 2GB flash storage, and a 366MHz Connexant processor. It runs Android 2.2.

The Doel is a key component of Digital Bangladesh, an ambitious plan to bring most of the nation online within a decade.

"When villages get laptops at a cheaper price they will be connected to the Internet and that will bring lots of benefits," Mohammad Ismail, TSS managing director, told the BBC.

Critics, however, point out that Bangladesh's Internet infrastructure is inadequate, adding that low-cost, readily available laptops may not be enough to help the country advance into the Digital Age.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter _(@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com. _

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