Computer On A Stick Being Shipped By Dell To Testers
July 29, 2013

Dell Ships Thumb Drive HDMI PC To Testers

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Just as they promised in May, Dell has begun shipping their Android "computer on a stick" to testers. The thumb-drive PC, titled "project Ophelia," was originally meant to run multiple operating systems, including Chrome, Mac OS X and Windows.

The first testers will receive a unit which only runs Android and can plug into any HDMI port, effectively turning their televisions and other displays into full sized-PCs. Google also released a similar product last week in the Chromecast, an HDMI stick which streams content from laptops, smartphones and tablets to a television set.

Dell said in May they planned to ship the first Ophelia test units to testers in July with hopes of making the tiny PC available to the general public in August. In addition, the Austin, Texas-based company hopes to pitch Ophelia as a thin client for their enterprise customers and even partner with telecoms to package the device with data and service plans.

In an email to PC World, a Dell spokesperson confirmed the units were being shipped to testers, with final and finished products slated to ship in the third quarter between August and October.

With Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, Dell plans to leverage these tiny PCs as an alternative to larger machines, the sales of which have been slowing as tablets become more popular.

Ophelia ships with Android 4 and can run a variety of apps available on the Google Play app store. Once plugged into the HDMI port, Ophelia effectively turns the display into a large tablet. Bluetooth keyboards and mice can be used to navigate the operating system. Users can also play games, stream movies and perform any other task they normally would on their mobile device.

This kind of plug and play ease of use could be welcomed by enterprise IT departments responsible for setting up and maintaining hundreds or thousands of computers. In the same way these professionals manage mobile Android devices on their network, they'll potentially be able to manage a host of these thumb-drive computers as well.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told PC World that Windows 8's lackluster reception could push some companies into choosing the $100 stick running a familiar operating system.

Ophelia will also work with Wyse's PocketCloud, a service which allows users to access files stored elsewhere from the cloud.

The small device also packs in a microSD card slot, one gig of RAM and a Rockchip RK3066 processor. Users can also plug Ophelia into a MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) slot, a technology which allows mobile devices to connect to larger displays by way of HDMI.

Just like Google's recent hardware device, Chromecast, Ophelia will need to be charged via USB. Though the thought of a single HDMI computer sounds elegant and simple, having an additional wire running to a second slot brings some muddy reality to the game.

Chromecast is Google's most recent attempt to gain control of the living room and allows other mobile devices to stream their content directly to the TV. Just like Ophelia, Chromecast is a tiny, thumb drive-sized stick which runs a modified version of a Google operating system. The device sells for $35.