As promised, Dell is now shipping its Android-based PC-on-a-stick, AKA "Project Ophelia," to beta testers and expects to ship a final product during the company's next fiscal quarter, or between August and October. It's about the size of a standard USB stick, and plugs into the HDMI port of any HDTV or monitor, turning it into a makeshift Android-based PC. Ophelia is expected to sell for around $100, and have access to Google Play.
"Built on Dell Wyse software technology already used on millions of devices, Project Ophelia transforms ordinary displays into a window to entertainment, communications and a person’s own personal cloud," the company said in January. "The product addresses a variety of uses being fueled by the growing need to access cloud-based apps and resources at any time, or whenever a larger screen high definition digital display provides a superb user experience."
With Ophelia, Dell is banking on customers who depend on the cloud for storing documents, photos, music and video. It's a lightweight PC alternative that can be carried in a pocket or on a key chain, seemingly eliminating the need for a laptop-sized bag. Bluetooth connectivity means users can also carry their favorite Bluetooth mice and keyboards to complete the mobile PC experience. All they need is an HDMI-based screen.
As of May, the device featured 8 GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for adding more. Powering this stick-sized PC is supposedly an SoC with two Cortex-A9 cores clocked at 1.6 GHz, and Android 4.1.2 "Jelly Bean." Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity allows it to access the local network so that users can stream movies, play games and install apps from Google Play.
Jeff McNaught, executive director of cloud client computing at Dell, said that Ophelia was developed to be an inexpensive alternative to tablets and PCs. It has builtin support for Wyse's PocketCloud, which allows users to access files stored on PCs, servers or mobile devices. "We've done a number of things in the software of the product and outside that will make it interesting," he said.
Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said that Ophelia could be attractive to companies unsure about moving up to Windows 8 and buying the necessary equipment. Using Ophelia would be a cost-cutting yet radical move, replacing desktop hardware with pocket-sized components and Windows 8 with the highly-familiar touch-friendly Android.
Dell is actually working to add enterprise-features to Ophelia to differentiate it from other consumer-based PC-on-a-stick devices using Android. These features include the ability to remotely shut down and wipe it clean if it's lost or stolen, and to keep a record of what the user is doing with the device. It will supposedly be easy for IT to manage as they do with Android-based smartphones and tablets.
Dell actually plans to pitch Ophelia as a pocket-sized client to the Enterprise sector. "We want to make sure when we release the product that it's perfect. The enterprise is one market we understand," McNaught said.
Ophelia will supposedly be offered through cable companies and wireless carriers starting in August, followed by Dell's website in the months to come.