Everyone's trying to go after Google's $35 Chromecast dongle lately. Microsoft recently announced its Wireless Display Adapter, which is more expensive and limited to Miracast-enabled PCs and devices. Mozilla is also in the running, and it may have a better solution. The organization has unveiled the Matchstick, which it bills as a "better and more open" alternative to the Google dongle.
And unlike the Microsoft device, the Matchstick will be cheaper than Chromecast, at $25.
Mozilla says the Matchstick team was excited by Chromecast's promise but disappointed with its limitations. As a result, the Matchstick runs Firefox OS, features an open developer toolkit, and is powered by a faster processor with more memory. According to the Matchstick Kickstarter page, the open dongle "gives you a much better video playback cache and increased performance for whatever games and custom overlays you might dream up."
The Matchstick is already "fully functional," the Kickstarter page adds, and manufacturing is scheduled to ramp in the next month or two. The team is hoping for a commercial release in time for the holidays, though it concedes that's a tight schedule. The Matchstick may not actually arrive until "the first few months of 2015."
At launch, the Matchstick folks will have a number of key apps ready to go: Netflix, HBO Go, Pandora, ESPN, ABC, and "many more." But the team is courting developers and asking them to add more. There's a developer site with "everything you need to begin working with Matchstick," and developers can apply for a free device here if they "commit to building and porting apps for Firefox OS on Matchstick." Apparently, porting existing Chromecast apps to the Matchstick takes "less than an hour."
I wasn't all that enthused by the early prototype of this thing we heard about in June, but the Matchstick has really shaped up. If Mozilla plays its cards right, this might be the HDMI dongle to have next year.
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