Ophelia is an over-sized USB stick that turns any HDMI-capable screen into a computer running off the cloud. So, for instance, plug this dongle into your TV with a one-two USB plus HDMI connection and voila your TV just received an upgrade.
This new technology was first shown off at CES, the key concept behind Ophelia has been familiar to tech enthusiasts for a while and is about to hit the mainstream along with Google’s newly-launched Chromecast. However, with Project Ophelia, Dell has one more trick up its sleeve, and that’s the cloud capacity. Last year Dell purchased Wyse, a company that specialises in cloud-based computing services and virtual desktop environments. The resulting collaboration between the two companies (Dell’s Wyse PocketCloud) means that Project Ophelia will allow users to run an environment of either Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS or Android on their screen of choice. The dongle itself will barely be using any power (there’s not much in it beyond an ARM Cortex-A9 processor and 1GB of RAM) but on the other end of its WiFi connection Dell’s cloud servers will be running virtual computers and streaming this work over to the client. Of course, this won’t be convenient for all users but as Google have pushed with their Chromecast, there’s also a world of Android apps to take advantage of. If we factor in more software products are becoming cloud-based services such as Microsoft’s Office becoming Office 365, and then the Ophelia device seems more and more plausible.
Plausible it may be be, but, the plug-in HDMI gizmos are still incredibly underwhelming as a user-experience; as such, the majority of the professional business world will be sticking with traditional computers for the foreseeable future and if connections between mobile devices and TVs become easier to access, then you may as well keep your processing power in your pocket.
Also, an extra issue, is the fact that Dell are still the world’s third-largest PC manufacturer, despite losing market share to companies like Lenovo, who have muscled in on Dell’s high-volume, low-margin business model. Christopher Mims of Quartz has speculated that the logic of a company like Dell making the Ophelia only makes sense once you factor in that the company is in the middle of a leveraged buyout, with CEO Michael Dell attempting things privately. Mims suggests that once the buyout is complete, the company could sell off the bits of its PC business still turning a buck and use the cash from the sales (which would add to the $14 billion they currently have) to perform a “breathtaking turnaround” and become “a company that sells services and software”.
Whether this hopeful vision of the future of Dell will ever come to pass is impossible to predict, especially with the buyout still uncertain. The final version of Ophelia is due to ship sometime in the next quarter between August and October and will cost approximately $100; if the Chromecast and similar devices prove popular in the interim, it might be launching into a receptive market and Ophelia might not be crazy after all.
[Image via itproportal]