Just few days back, code.org celebrated it’s annual Hour of Code week long event. While students and major IT companies were speaking about coding, I was pondering where to start. Right in time, I got Vidyut – a laptop that aims to educate the millennials of our country.
How do you write a code? A Java code is generally written on Notepad and then compiled on Command Prompt. To do just that, you need a computer that runs Windows, which will set you back by at least Rs 20,000. Is there a way to simplify this or make coding accessible to more people at a cheaper price point. If you ask IIT Bombay students, they think Yes and their solution is Vidyut – a Rs 7,500 notebook that lets you write software code effortlessly.
Specs: Fossee OS | 10 inch display | ARM v7 processor | 1 GB RAM | 8 GB HDD | 1 Kg | 5000mAh battery
Price: Rs 7,500
What is good?
The most delightful aspect of Vidyut for me is the way things have been put together. Firstly, you get a legitimate keyboard, a functional trackpad and a display that isn’t bad. It still amazes me that they could create a fully functional laptop at such an unbelievable price point.
Another amazing aspect for me is the plethora of education content that comes with the device out of the box. I read Balaguruswamy in my graduation days and it never inspired me to write codes, but it did successfully educate me. This notebook takes care of the former part very well.
During my last few days with Vidyut, I got an urge to fire up Code blocks and write a code and believe me I saw Hello World coming out of my screen in matter of seconds. Magical isn’t it? I then stepped up with writing codes for adding two numbers, finding perimeter and calculating area. It may sound simple stuff and probably one your Google search would easily workaround, but Google itself uses these codes to get you to that result.
I took the notebook to another friend who writes codes for a living. It took him a few seconds to get working with Python on this machine. The fact that a cheap machine running a forked version of Ubuntu letting you access programming languages like Fortran, Python is mystical at first but total revolutionary when it works.
It isn’t just about codes. The developers of the laptop wanted to cover a wider audience and the laptop comes with Inkscape/GIMP for those interested in graphics, features audacity for audio and video recording and FTP client FileZilla. It even comes with Open Office for those planning to edit a document or work on spreadsheet.
Does it have a browser? Yes, it has Chromium browser which many recognise as Chrome on other platforms and it works without any glitch. Accessing Facebook to editing Google Docs, everything is just like any other machine.
On the connectivity front, it puts many big computers to shame. For starters, it supports WiFi and Bluetooth for wireless connections. It comes with two USB ports and a full size card slot. It even has a mini HDMI port.
What is not good?
The specs make it evident that this notebook will be vulnerable to slowdown. There were way too many instances when the notebook stopped responding altogether and I have been told that Fossee team at IIT-B is working on improvements.
The keyboard is arguably better than trackpad. You will definitely need to carry a mouse to really operate this machine.
Even the battery life is not spectacular. It won’t last you for more than four hours between charges. On the brighter side, it does charge quickly.
The fact that I could not write this review on Vidyut shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Should you buy?
Honestly, I will buy one and gift it to a kid in my family who enters sixth grade next year. I see this notebook as a great learning device and it will invoke a thought to try coding – which even notebooks worth lakhs won’t accomplish.
While there are some negatives, I really don’t see a reason to complain since this notebook delivers lot of value for its price.
In my opinion, Vidyut is a perfect beginner’s notebook for all those interested in software programming. Learn on this device, try some codes on this device and once when you feel confident upgrade to a more premium device.
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