Dell ships Project Ophelia: a HDMI plug-in that streams computers from the cloud

The device is being released to beta testers and will be capable of running virtual computers via the cloud

Dell, the company once synonymous with the PC market, now looks like it wants to kill the traditional desktop. It’s just shipped to beta testers the first of its Project Ophelia devices: an over-sized USB stick that turns any HDMI-capable screen into a computer running off the cloud.

First shown of at CES, the key concept behind Ophelia has been familiar to tech enthusiasts for a while (the reasoning behind the name is unknown, some wag presumably just thought the idea was insane) and is about to hit the mainstream with Google’s newly-launched Chromecast.

It goes like this: you know your TV? Isn’t it massive and didn’t you spend a lot of money on it? And don’t you use it a lot less than you use to? Well, plug this dongle into it (yes, yes, get used to using that word) with a one-two USB plus HDMI connection and boom – your TV just got computered up. 

However, with Project Ophelia Dell has one more trick up its sleeve, and that’s its cloud capacity. Last year Dell bought 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 Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS or Android on their screen of choice.

The dongle itself will barely be ticking over (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 consumer.

Of course, this won’t be convenient (or perhaps even possible) for all users but – as Google have pushed with their Chromecast - there’s also a world of Android apps to take advantage of. Factor in the fact that more software products are becoming cloud-based services (think Microsoft’s Office becoming Office 365) and the Ophelia seems more and more plausible.

Of course, the banner headlines behind the story come with a wealth of caveats: the plug-in HDMI gizmos are still incredibly underwhelming as a user-experience; 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 stick with keeping your processing power in your hand.

An extra ‘complication’ 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 to things private.

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 for 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 fiscal 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 - Ophelia might turn out to be not so crazy after all.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SAP Data Migration Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

    (Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

    Software Developer with SQL and .Net skills

    £27000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable and dynamic softw...

    SQL Data Migration Specialist / Architect

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice