Dell's Project Ophelia HDMI stick is real, and we've been hands-on with it. Steel yourself, however, dear readers: it's not exactly meant for ordinary consumers like you or I.
For those not familiar with Project Ophelia, it was a cute little rumour that surfaced a while ago that finally became real. The Ophelia is a curious little gadget that reportedly connects to any HDMI port, turning the screen into a PC, media centre, or gaming console depending on how you’ve customised it. At least, that's what we thought it was.
Today we were shown the Ophelia in all its miniature glory, and as far as hardware was concerned, the rumours were spot on. It's a little stick, almost the size of a tin of mints, with an HDMI connecter, two mini-USB ports (one for power) and a microSD expansion slot for more memory. It's packing a multi-core Cortex A9 processor, and Bluetooth for connecting up your own keyboard and mouse.
It's powered by a heavily-customised version of Android, but that's just the base operating system. What it's meant for is thin-client desktop virtualisation, rather than something like the Chromecast stick that allows you to throw media to your TV or play streaming services.
The device is actually branded as a Dell Wyse device. Wyse is a company Dell bought a little while back, and using its technologies and a handful of others from separate acquisitions, the Ophelia is meant to be used to dial back into a desktop operating system stored elsewhere. Perhaps it's in your datacentre or just on your desk in the office. Wherever it is and whatever operating system it's running, the Ophelia can beam it onto your TV, monitor or any other device with an HDMI-in.
In case you hadn't figured it out yet, Dell is pitching the Ophelia stick at business, not consumers. At least at first. Dell tells us that the platform can be evolved in future based on feedback from users, and there's certainly nothing stopping you from loading up a microSD card full of your content and playing it on your TV, but it's not the Chromecast competitor we were hoping for.
The Ophelia is also being aimed at the emerging market, where access to computers isn't as pervasive as it is elsewhere, but access to TVs is. People will be able to get web access and compute power just by plugging this one small device into their existing panels.
Either way, we found it snappy when streaming a virtualised OS from another location. The only thing that might get in the way is the size of the device. The space behind a TV for example isn't exactly ample, meaning that the Ophelia's slightly-chubby construction would prohibit you plugging anything else in around it.
There's no pricing just yet, but Dell has told us it's aiming for an RRP of between $99 and $149, with a release date some time in the next few months.