Dell officials in January announced the company's Project Ophelia, an Android-based device a bit larger than a USB memory stick that they said will be able to turn any display into a cloud-based computer.
The device—now called the Wyse Cloud Connect—appears to be getting closer to its launch. Dell has filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlining test results and showing photos of the Wyse Cloud Connect device, and hands-on demonstrations of it are being promised at the Dell World 2013 event in Austin, Texas, in December.
There are few specifics about the device in the FCC documents, particularly concerning such areas as the processor, storage or memory. However, the device appears to include a Micro SD slot, an HDMI/MHL (High Definition Multimedia Interface/Mobile High Definition Link) connector and a Micro USB OTG port/power input for the HDMI connection, and come with a number of cables.
Project Ophelia and similar devices from other vendors—including Google and its Chromecast dongle—come at a time when the increasing mobility of consumers and business users is helping to fuel sales of tablets and smartphones at the expense of PCs, which have seen global sales decline for the past several quarters. Gartner analysts said in a report Oct. 21 that tablet shipments will increase 53.4 percent this year while PC shipments will fall 8.4 percent from 2012.
Dell and other vendors that have close ties with the PC business are looking for new form factors that will attract the attention of increasingly mobile, connected users. The idea behind Dell's Wyse Cloud Connect is that users can take their computing environments with them in the device, and access their content, photos, music and applications—which are stored in the cloud—from any display. They simply have to plug the device into the display via an HDMI or MHL port on the monitor.
The device's Bluetooth capabilities enable users to connect Bluetooth-enabled keyboards and mice with the Project Ophelia device, which leverages Dell's Wyse PocketCloud software for remotely accessing and managing files stored on PCs, servers or mobile devices through virtualization technology from the likes of VMware, Citrix Systems and Microsoft's Hyper-V offering.
"People are increasingly requiring access to digital content while on the go, in both their work and personal lives," Tarkan Maner, vice president and general manager of Cloud Client Computing at Dell, said in a statement at the time Project Ophelia was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. "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 WiFi-enabled work or entertainment stations—all managed easily by IT via Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager."
At the time, Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research, wrote in a research note that the Project Ophelia device "could provide an essentially populist technological bridge that successfully addresses both the increasing complexities of blending work and home life in the developed world, and providing easy access to information, entertainment and educational resources in a wide variety of other markets. Project Ophelia achieves this through a combination of portability, flexibility and affordability; the device is small enough to carry in a pants pocket, has no moving parts, is compatible with most any HDMI-capable flat-panel monitor or TV, and Dell representatives noted that it will be priced aggressively."
Past reports have the Wyse Cloud Connect device being priced in the $100 range and based on the Android 4.0 operating system.
Google in July unveiled Chromecast, a $35 dongle that also plugs into an HDMI slot on a high-definition TV. Users can stream video content to the TV via a smartphone, tablet or PC that is running either Google's Android, Microsoft's Windows or Apple's iOS.