Think Google's $35 Chromecast dongle is pretty cool? Well, it is—but Dell may have an even more compelling product on the way. According to PC World, the PC maker has begun beta testing Project Ophelia, a thumb-sized system with a similar form factor and much greater functionality.
Like Chromecast, Project Ophelia is a self-contained dongle that connects to a monitor or TV via HDMI. However, it reportedly runs Google's Android OS and lets users "run applications, play games, watch streaming movies or access files stored in the cloud." Wireless connectivity includes both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so wireless keyboards may be welcome, as well. According to PC World, Dell will only charge "about $100" for it.
The only apparent downside: Project Ophelia won't be available for a little while still. PC World says the device is shipping now to beta testers but isn't scheduled for a release until Dell's next fiscal quarter, which will run from August through October.
The possibilities for a low-cost, thumb-sized Android PC are practically endless. You could stream video to it from a PC or Mac via AirPlayit, watch Netflix or Hulu using the corresponding native apps for Android, or take the device out of the living room and use it as a diminutive thin client. If Dell can hit $100 (or thereabouts) without needless compromises, I may very well be among the first to buy one.