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$100 Android HDMI Dongle: Dell Project Ophelia

Posted by Mario Stylianou Categories: Technology

This new release by Dell signals a foray into a new market by a large and respected hardware manufacturer.Dell USB Ophelia The $100 Android HDMI dongle is a very appealing form factor for a variety of uses and several have been released in the past year given advances in hardware miniaturization and performance, reductions in cost, and improvements in open source operating systems.

Never having owned a laptop, when I was working on my PhD at A.U., I used school computers and carried around a USB stick that I had preloaded (via PortableApps) a bunch of applications like Firefox, a word processor, and others that would store my preferences, bookmarks, and files all in one place. After about a year, I took it to the next level and used an Ubuntu Live USB stick that booted up a school computer into the USB stick’s operating system and had all my apps as well. I was now leveraging everything about the computer (processor, monitor, keyboard, mouse) except the hard drive (no windows, no school environment) to basically turn any system into my computer. At any time, I could unplug to go elsewhere with my data, my operating system, and my apps, setting up shop at another computer lab, at a friend’s place, or at home.

Most dongles  are usually $25 or $35 (PLAiR, Google Chromecast, Raspberry Pi) but with that sort of price tag Dell Wyse / Project Ophelia will probably be powerful enough to run many more applications as a thin client and it has access to all of the apps in the Android ecosystem. I think the product will be great for a variety of uses. The dongle converts any old monitor or TV (or cheap CraigsList purchase) you possess into a very useful computer or streaming device– kitchen recipe monitor, treadmill monitor, wireless backyard entertainment monitor, kid’s first computer. As a thing client, it means it may be able to access other computers on your network, too. It also presents an interesting data security aspect as you can take your data on the go like I used to at AU. The dongle is essentially providing similar functionality except it goes a step further and builds the processor, RAM, bluetooth, and wifi directly into the stick. Project Ophelia “can turn any screen or display with an HDMI port into a PC, gaming machine, or streaming media player,” and it is now shipping to beta testers ahead of a public release scheduled for this fall.

Dell Project Ophelia

With a mouse and keyboard as the only additions, you have a very portable computer that can be hooked up into high-resolution displays. While “additions” may admittedly sound bulky or unwieldy, I’m certain products like the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 or the Logitech Keyboard K810 & Touchpad T650 Bundle  will become bluetooth compatible with these dongle form-factor systems. Mouse/keyboard combinations like that would be great for the household and even for travelling.

With all the miniaturization these days of “portable” screens (the 8″ netbooks of years past, 10″ tablets of now, and 11″ MacBook Airs of foreseeable future), it’s refreshing to be able to go to a hotel room with this dongle and maybe a keyboard (until hotels start providing them) to work off your 40″ screen. Why settle for a small screen if you don’t have to?

“People are increasingly requiring access to digital content while on the go, in both their work and personal lives,” said Tarkan Maner, vice president and general manager, Cloud Client Computing at Dell. “Mobile devices have small screens, tablets and PCs aren’t always convenient to haul around, and all these devices require batteries that can run down.‘Project Ophelia’ turns capable TVs and monitors into personal and reliable Wi-Fi enabled work or entertainment stations – all managed easily by IT via Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager.”

Mario Stylianou


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