Dell Enhances Wyse Cloud Connect Mini-PC

Among the improvements for the small thin client system is an app that can turn any Android-based device into a keyboard and mouse.

Dell Ophelia

Dell is updating its pocket-size Wyse Cloud Connect computing device, including launching an app that can take any Android-based device and turn it into a keyboard and mouse.

The updates, announced June 19, were designed to help improve the user experience and enhance management and control of the Cloud Connect, according to Jeff McNaught, executive director of marketing and chief strategy officer for cloud client computing at Dell.

The Cloud Connect device—which was code-named Project Ophelia when introduced in early 2013 and officially launched in January—essentially can turn any display into a cloud-based computer.

"Since January we've kept our eyes and ears open to ensure that the device's evolution keeps up with our customers' needs and demands," McNaught wrote in a post on the company blog. "Our goal is to continuously make people's jobs easier by enhancing convenience and usability for end users, while simultaneously improving and facilitating IT control and security."

Dell officials first announced Project Ophelia as a way of bringing virtual desktop and personal cloud services to any display with an High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) or Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) port. The idea is to enable users to 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. As workers become increasingly mobile, the Cloud Connect enables them to access their computing environments, services and IT solutions, which are 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 portfolio. Through the device, users can connect to PCs running Microsoft's Windows or Apple's Mac OS, while organizations get another low-cost and secure option for streaming content and applications to remote employees.

Initially, users could pair the device with a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard and mouse. However, the new app, available in the Google Play store, enables any Android device to be used as a keyboard and mouse, with support for gestures available in any Android environment such as swipe, long press, drag, pinch open and pinch close, according to McNaught.

In addition, the app enables the Cloud Connect to support the Android navigation bar.

To help improve the user experience, the interface has been given what McNaught called a "desktop-like" look and feel, the Bluetooth pairing wizard has been enhanced and the device now offers Ethernet-over-USB support. In addition, when the Cloud Connect is connected, the device can detect whether the display is non-touch or a touch-screen, and indicates whether each app downloaded from Google Play is touch-compatible.

Dell also is making it easier to use Cloud Connect for digital signage by enabling people to use a secure digital card inserted in the device to install and update digital signs. Users also can configure lock-screen and stay-awake settings as well as disabling notifications.

Dell's Wyse vWorkspace client is now preinstalled on Cloud Connect, joining other clients like Citrix System's XenDesktop and VMware's Horizon View.