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Southeast Asia, explained

Thailand tablets schools 2012 03 06Enlarge
A Thai government promise to supply school kids with iPad-like tablets -- the One Tablet Per Child program -- will be fulfilled by a Chinese firm pumping out tablet PCs for $81 a pop. (Screengrab)

In a push to ramp up kids' tech skills, Thailand's government is preparing to buy a Chinese-built iPad-esque tablet PC for every first grader.

The key phrase here is "iPad-esque."

Thai kids, it appears you're getting the "ScoPad." Like an iPad, it's slender, WiFi equipped and assembled in China.

The difference is ScoPads are designed by a company you've never heard of – Scope – and they're a whole hell of a lot cheaper. According to the Bangkok Post, the little-known Chinese firm will churn out the 7-inch tablets for just $81 a pop. (Higher bids came from Chinese companies Huawei, TCL and Haier, the China Daily reports.)

Shipping is not included in that price. Nor is the cost of pre-installing educational software: an extra $10 per unit.

But provided the ScoPad proves durable enough to withstand the wreckless fingers of 700,000 first graders, Scope is poised for a long relationship with the Thai government.

The ruling party, during last year's eleciton season, promised to eventually outfit all Thai students with tablet PCs.


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