Imagine a Samsung Galaxy S II without a screen or battery, then shrink it down to fit inside of a USB Flash drive and you essentially have this device. Connect it to a computer running Windows or Mac OS X and you can run Android apps inside of your operating system at full speed (thanks to the dual-core ARM CPU and Mali 400MP GPU) or alternatively, plug it into any HDMI-equipped TV and use it like a smartphone but with a massive screen (similar to the webtop mode on Motorola's Atrix, but more useful).
The only things missing are 3G and access to Google's Android Market, but I'm sure someone will figure out how to add the latter shortly after it has been released.
While BlueStacks is putting Android on PCs through software and Google still forges on with Android with Google TV, FXI's got an entirely different idea of how to get Android running across non-phone and tablet devices. The Cotton Candy might look like just a regular USB stick, but inside it dwells the parts of an Android phone or tablet — a 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos ARM CPU, ARM Mali-400 MP quad-core GPU, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro SD card slot for storage, and a HDMI jack on the opposite end. So, what's the point? When you plug it into a computer (Mac or PC) via USB or a TV via HDMI you've got Android 2.3 in all its glory. The idea is that you can convert your TV or laptop into an Android device, but since it isn't a sanctioned Google device it doesn't have Market Access.
We got a look at the powerful little USB stick this evening, and it's a fairly interesting device. When plugged into the MacBook Air's USB port, Android 2.3 launched in a separate window and we were able to play Angry Birds using the touchpad. The set up makes it quite easy to jump back and forth between Android and OS X. We didn't get too much of a demo of it plugged into a TV, but we saw the founder of the company navigating Android on the big screen using a Bluetooth keyboard and it looked fairly smooth. Obviously, apps are the big issue, and while FXI's working to get a third-party app store on the device, you can sideload them right now. FXI seems more interested in teaming up with other companies to bring the Cotton Candy to market, but they anticipate it will cost "well under $200" in the second half of 2012. (Source)Is that a USB key in your pocket or a dual-core computer? Today, Norwegian company FXI technologies showed off a USB stick-sized portable computer prototype, complete with a dual-core 1.2-GHz Samsung Exynos ARM CPU (same as in the Galaxy S II), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI-out and a microSD card slot for memory. Codenamed Cotton Candy because its 21 gram weight is the same as a bag of the confection, the tiny PC enables what its inventor calls “Any Screen Computing,” the ability to turn any TV, laptop, phone, tablet, or set-top box into a dumb terminal for its Android operating system.
The Cotton Candy has a USB 2.0 connector on one end and an HDMI jack on the other. When connected to an HDTV, it uses the HDMI port for video, the USB for power, and Bluetooth to connect to a keyboard, mouse, or tablet for controlling the operating system. The device can output up to 1080p so even a full HD screen can display the Candy’s preloaded Android 2.3 operating system at its native resolution. The dual core CPU is powerful enough to play local 1080p video or stream HD clips from the Web.
When you plug the Cotton Candy into a Mac or PC, the Windows or OS X operating system recognizes it as a USB drive. You can then launch the software and run the Cotton Candy’s Android environment in a secure window while you use your desktop OS outside the window. You can even transfer files between your notebook’s native OS and the Cotton Candy’s Android environment by dragging them off or on the USB stick’s memory.
We watched as FXI CEO Borgar Ljosland popped the Cotton Candy into his MacBook Pro and, within seconds, had the device’s Android OS running in a full screen window and, though we didn’t get to play with the device ourselves, we were impressed with how quickly it started up. Borgar told us that Android developers can use this environment to test out their apps while they work on code in another window.
HDTVs, monitors, and computers are just the tip of the iceberg for the Cotton Candy. Borgar told us the device will be able to connect to tablets, smartphones, and even set top boxes via USB or Bluetooth. He says that he expects the device to be able to turn even an iPhone or an iPad into a terminal for its environment. Imagine an iPhone running Android!
Because the Cotton Candy is a full-fledged computer, it should be able to plug into a USB hub and connect directly to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse to launch its OS. Offices or schools could set up docking terminals to support users who carry it in their pockets.
Cotton Candy’s purpose is to provide a computing experience that users can carry with them and replicate anywhere they go. Imagine walking into an Internet cafe or a business center, popping your Cotton Candy into a USB port, and having your own operating system and applications take over the device.
Though the current prototype runs Android 2.3, Borgar told us that the ARM-based hardware can run Ubuntu Linux currently and future versions should be able to run the ARM version of Windows 8. Future versions of the device will have a USB 3 connector and faster processors.
From developers to students to mobile workers, there are a number of groups that could find innovative ways to use a computer the size of a USB stick. However, you won’t see a consumer product shipping anytime soon from FXI. The company plans to sell the Cotton Candy to developers and let OEMs license the technology and turn it into something that can appeal to a wide audience.
Borgar does not expect these future “any screen” products to replace your primary PC or smartphone, but says they could become popular secondary devices. With Ubuntu installed, the Cotton Candy can even be turned into a mobile file or web server!
FXI hasn’t set pricing yet for the Cotton Candy, but expects it to cost considerably less than $200 per unit. That’s not bad for a full-fledged computing device the size of a cigarette lighter. (Source)
Last edited by Arthur; 19th November 2011 at 09:16 AM.
Me want, lol
I can see this being a good thing for digital signage - no more Windows Embedded (although yes many run of Linux these days) but in that small a form factor with such a small power draw its the perfect application.
Looks great, but still not available. We are waiting for our refurbished Nook from Barnes & Nobles to test ebooks for students.
Looks fantastic, I'm going to have to have a play with one of those I think!
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