Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dell's New Project Ophelia HDMI Stick Transforms Monitors into Virtual PCs

Recently, Dell unveiled a prototype of a pocket-sized HDMI stick that is capable of turning any compatible computer monitor into a virtual PC that is capable of running Android apps or remotely accessing Windows apps on a cloud service or remote PC.

The prototype, known as Project Ophelia, is the brain child of Dell Wyse, the business unit formed from Dell's acquisition of Wyse Technology. Tarken Maner, former CEO of Wyse and new Vice President and General Manager of Cloud Client Computing at Dell, expects the device to cost under $100 when it is launched, though a release date has yet to be established.

The HDMI interface of the device will allow it to be used with big-screen displays like HDTVs, making Project Ophelia a relatively inexpensive way to make a computer anywhere the stick can connect to a network through either Bluetooth or WiFi. Maner believes that telecommunications companies that wish to sell cloud devices may subsidize the device in the same way they discount cell phones to customers who commit to service contracts.

On the other hand, Project Ophelia does face some pretty big hurdles. For example, most TVs in hotel rooms come with HDMI access, though a keyboard and mouse may not be readily available. Plus, if you have to bring both of those with you, you not only add bulk and cost, but you might as well bring a laptop.

While connected to an MHL-compatible display, the stick doesn't require any additional power. However, MHL is also a relatively new technology and HDTVs that have it are just now starting to pop up on the market. Without MHL, Project Ophelia must be charged through a USB connection. MHL, in case you didn't know, stands for Mobile High-Definition Link and is a technology that delivers power from the display to the device while displaying its contents.

Also, inexpensive tablets can do much of what this new dongle from Dell can already do and they don't involve the hassle of finding and setting up monitors, keyboards and mice since they already have a display and navigation functions. While it is most definitely true that a good tablet of good size will cost you well over $100, the tradeoffs may be worth it.

Source: Computer World - Turn any display into a virtual PC with Dell's HDMI stick