Dell Launches Pocket-Size Cloud Connect Device

The company's Android-based Wyse Cloud Connect—once called Project Ophelia—lets users connect to applications and content via any display.

Dell's much-anticipated Project Ophelia—the Android-based pocket-sized device that can turn any display into a cloud-based computer—is now on the market.

The newly privatized company announced the availability of Dell Wyse Cloud Connect, a small device that was introduced a year ago as a way of bringing virtual desktop and personal cloud services to any display with an HDMI or MHL port. The idea behind the dongle is that users can take their computing environments with them and access their content, photos, music and applications—which are stored in the cloud—from any display.

Once connected, the dongle delivers a high-definition experience that includes enterprise-level security and manageability, enabling the growing numbers of mobile workers to access their computing environments and services and IT solutions streamed by their companies from anywhere.

The Wyse Cloud Connect device is part of Dell's Cloud Client Computing desktop virtualization portfolio, and the company's larger effort to grow its enterprise IT solutions offerings. Through the dongle, users can connect to PCs running Microsoft's Windows or Apple's Mac OS, while giving organizations a low-cost and secure way of streaming services, content and applications to remote employees.

The device, via Bluetooth or mini-USB, can connect to keyboards and mice, and it leverages Dell's Wyse PocketCloud software for remotely accessing and managing files stored on PCs, servers or mobile devices through virtualization technology from the VMware, Citrix Systems and Microsoft's Hyper-V technology.

"We unlock new options for our customers to access their data and applications by combining mobility, manageability and security with a powerful user experience at an affordable price-point," Steve Lalla, vice president and general manager for Dell Cloud Client Computing, said in a statement.

The Wyse Cloud Connect dongle sells for $129.

With the global PC market seeing slower sales and IT trends like greater employee mobility and bring-your-own-device (BYOD), tech vendors like Dell are looking for new ways beyond traditional desktops and notebooks to enable users to stay connected to corporate networks, services and applications no matter where they are. Dell officials cited IDC numbers that show that the smart-connected device space grew 30.4 percent in 2012, and that shipments will exceed 2.3 billion units by 2017.

The Dell device should be of particular interest to enterprises and educational systems, but given that is supports both PC functionality and remote management, it also can be used in various stand-alone commercial and industrial areas, such as for digital signage and in retail and hospitality businesses, airports and libraries, according to Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT Research.

In a research note, King said the device is more than just Dell leveraging the thin client technology it inherited when it bought Wyse in 2012.

"Rather than being restricted by conventional market and product development wisdom, Dell instead used Project Ophelia to reimagine how thin client and associated technologies might function if they were freed from traditional constraints and use cases," he wrote. "The result is a highly portable solution that can support a remarkable range of functionalities in that most unremarkable of devices—a desktop monitor or display. In essence, Dell Wyse Cloud Connect has made the experience and performance of desktop computing small enough to be put into a pocket."

Given that experience and performance, the Wyse Cloud Connect "should allow Dell's new solution to provide substantially deeper value and richer user satisfaction than competitors who are unwilling or unable to look beyond the shallow limits of thin clients," King wrote.