Micromax Funbook: the best among the cheaper Android tablets?

Micromax has entered the Indian tablet market with a 7-inch ‘Funbook’ priced at Rs 6,500, making it the cheapest Android tablet in India from a prominent brand.

That credit earlier belonged to HCL’s ME U1 tablet, priced at Rs 8,000. The Funbook is a good 19% cheaper than the HCL ME U1.

Micromax has partnered with leading players to provide education and entertainment content. These partnerships include Pearson and Everonn to make available content for the students and BigFlix, Zenga and Indiagames to provide entertainment and gaming.

The device will be available at retail outlets across 50 cities in India and on snapdeal.com and micromaxfunbook.com

To make online content available to users, the device will come bundled with Tata Photon plus, with additional 1GB download offer for the first two months, Micromax said.

“We want to make smart learning pervasive. With Micromax’s Funbook bundled with V Learn Smart and internet connectivity, this becomes a reality,” said Swapnil Shrivastav, Co-Founder and CEO, Vriti.

At Rs 6,500, the Micromax Funbook is, however, priced at Rs 1,000 more than the Wishtel IRA tablet.

As a result, the Wishtel IRA (Thing) continues to be the cheapest Android tablet in India with a capacitive touch-screen — a must for ease of use.

The Micromax Funbook too has a capacitive touch-screen.

UPDATE: The Funbook has been overtaken by Datawind Ubislate, priced at Rs 4,000, as the best value for money tablet in India

In addition, while the HCL ME U1 may not have much better specifications compared to the Funbook, the Micromax tablet does have some features and specifications that make it better than the IRA. In other words, it is a well spent extra Rs 1,000 to upgrade to the Funbook.

The main advantage, compared to the Wishtel tablet, is that the Funbook has a newer processor built on the ARM Cortex A8 platform.

The Cortex A8 is part of ARM version 7, while Wishtel’s ARM-9 processor is part of the older ARM version 5.

Also, unlike the 600-800 MHz processors on cheaper tablets, such as the Akash and IRA, the Micromax Funbook has a top-of-the-line 1.2 GHz processor.

At that clockspeed, the processor on the Rs 6,500 Funbook runs at the same speed as those on the Samsung Galaxy 620 — one of the latest models from the Korean brand. Of course, while the Samsung Galaxy has a dual core processor, the Micromax Funtab has a single core processor, implying only half the power.

Still, the Funtab has perhaps the most powerful and up-to-date processor on any tablet priced below Rs 10,000 in the Indian market at present.

The second important factor is the graphics processor. While the GPU is hardly worth mention when it comes to cheaper tablets, the Micromax Funtab has a dual core Mail 400 – 2D/3D graphics processor from ARM. It may be noted that the Samsung Galaxy 680 and 620, priced in the Rs 25,000-35,000 price range, also have graphics processors from the same family.

Not surprisingly, the Funbook has an HDMI port to let users connect it to external devices such as TVs. It also has a built-in memory of 4GB (plus a card-slot), but DOES NOT have 3G connectivity built-in. 3G cards can be supported via the USB port, the company said.

The Funbook also boasts of the latest Android operating system, the Ice Cream Sandwich and also has a front-facing camera to allow for video-calls (the only one in the low-end category, perhaps, to have the feature.)

The downside is the display — which continues to be a disappointing 800*480 pixels in resolution — the same as that of Aakash, Penta and IRA.

However, all things considered, the Micromax Funbook is perhaps the best tablet in the sub-Rs-10,000 category in India available now, even though it is priced at just Rs 6,500 only.

For other specifications and comparison, see the chart below.

Meanwhile, according to CyberMedia Research, the Indian tablet market was about 4.75 lakh units last year — or about 0.22% of the size of the mobile phone markets (by units).

“In India the media tablet has very quickly metamorphosed from being a ‘premium’ or ‘luxury’ product for the select few, to one that has appeal to a wide range of customer segments such as business executives, advertising and media professionals and students to name a few,” Naveen Mishra, Lead Telecoms Analyst, CyberMedia Research, said.

It was towards the end of 2010 that Indian tablet market took shape, with the launch of the Galaxy tab by Samsung.

CyberMedia believes the launch of new tablets by Indian brands will widen the market to include even price-sensitive consumers.

“The competition is expected to intensify further with new vendors launching their products during 2012. Currently, individuals as well as enterprises are experimenting with the media tablet platform for various use cases,” it pointed out.

As a word of caution, it added that the success in adoption of media tablets will largely depend on product performance and availability of relevant content and applications, as well as affordable and widespread 3G services.