The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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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.

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