A pocket-size device that turns any monitor into a cloud-connected computer. That’s the idea behind the Dell Wyse Cloud Connect, what the company says is a "new category of smart connected device."
Code-named Project Ophelia, the Android-based product was announced a year ago, after which Dell filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission describing test results. Slightly larger than a standard USB memory stick, it allows users to bring cloud-based apps, files and virtual desktops to any screen with a HDMI or MHL port, delivered with enterprise-grade security and in high-def.
The company said that the thin client device, which can connect wirelessly to Windows or Mac computers, offers quick cloud access to content, apps, virtual desktops and IT support for mobile workers. It can be used as a battery-free backup device in the event that a primary device is stolen or lost.
‘A New Category’
The device’s virtualization portfolio includes the Dell Wyse Cloud Client Manager for mobile device and application management/control, and desktop virtualization solutions from Citrix, Microsoft or VMware, which are Dell partners. Access to files and apps is offered through Dell Wyse PocketCloud and customer support worldwide is through Dell ProSupport for Cloud.
Dell, newly privatized and looking for ways to stake claim to unique product spaces, described Cloud Connect as “a new category of smart connected device.” Steve Lalla, VP and GM for Dell Cloud Client-Computing, said in a statement that the new product “is a disruptive device,” which can “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.”
In its announcement, Dell cited comments from Wang Jim, GM at China’s State Grid Electric Power Research Institute. He said that the device, “merely the size of a wireless network card,” is nevertheless “powerful enough to project a virtual desktop on any TV screen” through the use of a tablet or other mobile device.
If the device catches on, there could in fact be a number of new use cases for cloud-based computing. It provides a radically different approach to accessing cloud-stored apps/data, as well as to virtual desktops.
Whether or not Cloud Connect represents a new category by itself, it and Google’s Chromecast do appear to be forming a category of dongle-like devices that provide displays with applications, cloud access and other functional capabilities. Chromecast, a $35 device that also resembles a USB memory stick and also utilizes a HDMI port, can stream audio or video content though Wi-Fi via mobile or Web apps running on a smartphone, tablet or PC, or through mirroring content on the Google Chrome browser.
Cloud Connect sells for $129, and Bluetooth keyboards and mice designed to work with the device are also available, although Dell has not announced their prices.