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Android Hardware Technology

Dual-Core Android PC Now Comes On a USB Stick 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the soon-computers-will-fit-inside-your-teeth dept.
absolut.evil writes "FXI Technologies has taken a dual core smartphone-esque computer and put it into a little USB stick. Neat. This allows you to plug into anything with a screen, USB port, and input device and run your own instance of Android. It weighs 21 grams and contains '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.'"
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Dual-Core Android PC Now Comes On a USB Stick

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  • !Now (Score:5, Informative)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday November 18, 2011 @05:38PM (#38103486)

    Consumer pricing has not yet been established, but product is expected to be available in volumes the second half of 2012.

    • If it's over $25 then it's a no go...

      • by ksd1337 (1029386)
        Well, the specs are better than Raspberry Pi. It really depends on the target audience.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228)

        I'd say even then its kinda pointless unless you are developing Android apps. I mean what is the point of firing up an entire computer only to run ANOTHER full computer in a USB form factor? talk about "Yo Dawg, i heard you like computing so I put a computer in your computer so you can compute while you compute"!

        I still think the better way to go is Expressgate/SplashTop. you have a single chip that plugs into a USB port on the motherboard and you have an instant dual boot that works at the BIOS level. no e

        • Re:!Now (Score:5, Informative)

          by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Friday November 18, 2011 @09:22PM (#38105286) Journal

          I mean what is the point of firing up an entire computer only to run ANOTHER full computer in a USB form factor?

          I'm beginning to understand why you seem to be trolling all the time. It might help if you slowed down a little and read TFA (yeah, I know...)

          Here, this might help:

          "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."

          Just slow down a little, understand what you're commenting on, and you'll come across as a much nicer person. I'm sure you're a good bloke at heart.

          Personally, I'm looking at these things and thinking Amarino [amarino-toolkit.net]. If MIT can get it's act together and make it possible to include Amarino events in App Inventor, toys like this could really fire up home robotics. Imagine being able to use the voice control and face recognition in Ice Cream Sandwich to control real interactions!

          These things are very cool, and they'll only get cheaper.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            All the hacking power you will ever need in a readily concealable device, everyone lock up your USB ports, right now.

          • "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."

            Rather contradicts the summary, which says

            This allows you to plug into anything with a screen, USB port, and input device and run your own instance of Android."

            My interpretation of that was the same as Hairyfeet's. I was rather wondering how it could take over the host machine via a USB port that's designed to connect to peripherals (

        • by Phoghat (1288088)
          FTFA: "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!" Do you think that Joe Consumer is going to buy a computer to run on his computer? He's going to plug it into his TV or a monitor to turn it INTO a
        • by mikael (484)

          Sun Microsystems once embedded a Windows PC into their workstations, just so that CAD engineers could read their E-mail from Microsoft Exchange and other apps. It would open up as a seperate window.

          VMware does the same - using virtualization, you can run Windows XP on a Linux distribution.

          Maybe the PC is a laptop that has a high resolution screen (1280x1024 upwards) but a slow or old GPU. This would seem a great way of upgrading the latter.
          The price is going to be the big issue, with the upper limit being t

    • Re:!Now (Score:5, Informative)

      by jduhls (1666325) on Friday November 18, 2011 @06:15PM (#38103936)
      Wired says it will be less than $200:

      http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/11/android-cotton-candy-fxi/ [wired.com]
      • by Nyder (754090)

        Wired says it will be less than $200:

        http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/11/android-cotton-candy-fxi/ [wired.com]

        I think I'll stick with the $25 Pi, thanks.

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          I'm going for the $35 dollar one with twice the ram. The raspberry pi seems cooler to me. I don't really want android as a computer operating system.

          • This device raises an interesting question: can the Raspberry Pi be used as an Android host? It seems inevitable that someone will try that out.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              This device raises an interesting question: can the Raspberry Pi be used as an Android host? It seems inevitable that someone will try that out.

              It certainly has sufficient hardware, and it obviously runs Linux, so if it doesn't run on it now, it will soon. I indeed am planning to use Raspberry Pi for a media player and general STB.

        • by asdf7890 (1518587)
          These are quite different devices though: they have a much more powerful CPU and GPU, much more RAM (1024M instead of 128 for the $25 RP or 256 on the $35 model) and it has 802.11b/g and bluetooth built-in which the RP will of course support but only via extra devices plugged in. And it might be less than $200 - they might be padding the expected price a little to avoid the moaning if they've misjudged and it comes out more expensive (like the laptop-per-child machines did), better to surprise your target m
    • FXI hasn’t set pricing yet for the Cotton Candy, but expects it to cost considerably less than $200 per unit.

      So it might be less than $200, but maybe not. At anywhere near that price it would make a lot more sense to just buy a low end Android device that you can carry with you than to try to make this thing work with other devices. And I don't believe the claim that you can just plug this into anything with a USB port and somehow magically take it over. Might work on a few Windows boxes, but there

      • by fluffy99 (870997)

        FXI hasn’t set pricing yet for the Cotton Candy, but expects it to cost considerably less than $200 per unit.

        So it might be less than $200, but maybe not. At anywhere near that price it would make a lot more sense to just buy a low end Android device that you can carry with you than to try to make this thing work with other devices. And I don't believe the claim that you can just plug this into anything with a USB port and somehow magically take it over. Might work on a few Windows boxes, but there is no way that they can design it to take over everything with a USB port on it.

        If it had a firewire port which allows a connected device DMA access to memory, then I would think it could potentially take over. Actually this would make one heck of a keylogger if it had firewire. You could read anything in memory at any time.

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          With firewire you could connect it to a mac with the mac in "target disk mode." That would be neat.

      • there is no way that they can design it to take over everything with a USB port on it

        More like "anything that can boot from USB or alternatively, install the host side usb driver"

    • by jmorris42 (1458) *

      Exactly. Why do we have to have a post about a press release for a product that may or may not actually come into existence next year?

      A year is a very long time in this game, things will be very different, those specs will be obsolete for one thing.

      If it ships, then we can discuss it, the usual suspects can troll, folks can point out it is pointless for reasons a, b and c. And so on.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)
        Hmm, perhaps FXI is a division of Microsoft? Embracing the Rasbperry Pi; Extending the pricing; Extinguishing the hobbyist.
  • Angry Birds (Score:4, Funny)

    by ForestGrump (644805) on Friday November 18, 2011 @05:43PM (#38103546) Homepage Journal

    Good. Now I can play Angry Birds on my computer at work.

    • TO work as if they be plugged in to any system and just start being able to use the systems video out, keyboard and mouse makes it seem a good hackers tool.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      If you can get the Chrome browser on your work computer, you can do that already.

      • by Guy Harris (3803)

        If you can get the Chrome browser on your work computer, you can do that already.

        Hell, if you have Windows, Mac OS X, or {fill in your other x86 UN*X}+Wine on your work computer, you can do that already. I think the person to whom you were responding may have known that and just tossed in a bit of snark.

        • by mollymoo (202721)
          My work computers run Windows XP, IE6 and Firefox 3.5 - no Flash in either browser. How can I run Angry Birds on that shitheap?
          • by Guy Harris (3803)

            My work computers run Windows XP, IE6 and Firefox 3.5 - no Flash in either browser. How can I run Angry Birds on that shitheap?

            By going to Rovio's Angry Birds shop's page for Angry Birds PC Version [angrybirds.com] and paying USD 4.95 or whatever the local price is for you? There's nothing there to indicate that it runs in a Web browser as a Flash game.

            • by mollymoo (202721)
              Do you think my work computer would be running IE6 and Firefox 3.5 if I could install my own software? Shit, I can't even fire up Task Manager to kill an errant app.
              • Do you think my work computer would be running IE6 and Firefox 3.5 if I could install my own software? Shit, I can't even fire up Task Manager to kill an errant app.

                You might have bigger problems than not being able to play Angry Birds...

  • Developers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bjb_admin (1204494) on Friday November 18, 2011 @05:48PM (#38103600)
    I can understand developers would like this, since the android emulator in the SDK is slower than molasses in (northern) December. I suppose ICS would not be an issue to get on this for the future.

    But $200 seems a little steep since a real tablet can be purchased for that price range (although with perhaps with less CPU/RAM). $50-$100 would probably be the sweet point.

    Actually this reminds me of something I thought of when Siri came out. How long is it going to take for someone to come out with a screenless / keypadless phone that is pure voice recognition (built into a headset like a BT headset??)? Same thing for GPS units (rather than being distracted by a map you just have to listen to the directions, much like having a person reading you directions "like in the old days"). That would extend battery life, reduce costs, although would also reduce it to the basic functionality (sorry no angry birds).
    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      I can understand developers would like this, since the android emulator in the SDK is slower than molasses in (northern) December.

      I suppose ICS would not be an issue to get on this for the future.

      But $200 seems a little steep since a real tablet can be purchased for that price range (although with perhaps with less CPU/RAM). $50-$100 would probably be the sweet point.

      It appears that this is not to be thought of as some sort of substitute phone (or other mobile device) but a way to take the effort into mobile development (Angry Birds, ultra low power graphics, etc.) and plaster it on a big screen. $200 might be a little steep for a set-side box (as we can see with the trouble Google TV and Apple TV have had) but if the price comes down or if there is a particularly killer app (portability is already a wow factor) then this might be a popular little gadget. I can pictur

    • Re:Developers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SkimTony (245337) on Friday November 18, 2011 @06:01PM (#38103786)

      I'm not sure that would stop them. Can you imagine all the people on the train playing angry birds by voice command!?

      It's a good thing my headphones are sound isolating. I'd hate to have to listen to that.

      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Friday November 18, 2011 @08:14PM (#38104900)

        Can you imagine all the people on the train playing angry birds by voice command!?

        Large metropolis, 7:30 Monday morning, a train heading towards the CBD:

        Commuter1: "Caw"
        Commuter2: "Caw-caw"
        Commuter3: "Caw-caw, caw-caw"
        Commuter1: "Caw-ca-caw-caw"
        Commuter3: "Caw-caw-caw-caw"
        Commuter1: "Caw-caw, Damn, hey Commuter3, keep it down will you? I'm in the middle of a game!"
        Commuter3: "Shut up Commuter1, you stupid loser, Caw-caw-caw-caw-caw-caw....caw!"
        Commuter2: "Hey guys, stop arguing, it's interfering with my game"
        Commuter1: "Fuck you Commuter2, I just lost the high score, want me to come over there and help you? Caw-Caw! How d'you like them birds?"

        ???

        News at 11: "This morning's tragedy in the commuter train will be remembered for a long time..."

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      You could wear it on your chest and make a cool gold symbol...

    • by optimism (2183618)

      $200 seems a little steep since a real tablet can be purchased for that price range

      Similarly, $1/GB seems steep for a USB flash drive, since hard-drive space can be purchased for less than $0.05/GB.
      Size and convenience do, in fact, matter.
      However, it's a moot point since the gizmo in TFA is vaporware, unlikey to be produced in any mass-marketable quantity.

      How long is it going to take for someone to come out with a screenless / keypadless phone that is pure voice recognition (built into a headset like a BT headset??)? Same thing for GPS units (rather than being distracted by a map you just have to listen to the directions, much like having a person reading you directions "like in the old days"). That would extend battery life, reduce costs, although would also reduce it to the basic functionality (sorry no angry birds).

      I doubt you'll ever see this device.

      Voice recognition & response are horribly inefficient compared to visual input & output. We've had the ability to do it in consumer products for about 15 years, but it hasn't caught on for this

  • This device could be much more useful if it shipped with a desktop linux distro, like Ubuntu or Fedora.
    • by Microlith (54737)

      And if the vendor is forthcoming and supportive, it could readily be made to run a regular Linux distro. If they're worthless like most handset/tablet vendors, then they'll not help and possibly set up security to hinder your ability to do so.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by metalgamer84 (1916754)

      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.

      With Ubuntu installed, the Cotton Candy can even be turned into a mobile file or web server!

      RTFA next time.

      • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Friday November 18, 2011 @06:57PM (#38104324) Journal

        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.

        With Ubuntu installed, the Cotton Candy can even be turned into a mobile file or web server!

        RTFA next time.

        RTFA? RTFA?!?!?!

        THIS - IS - SLASHDOT!

    • by Shatrat (855151)
      Apps > apt-get for most people.
      • by Microlith (54737)

        That may be, but why is it always implied that silly access to apps is mutually exclusive to having a nice back end infrastructure with access to a repository? Not that this is the kind of thing that your average Android user is going to buy.

        Certainly it's mutually exclusive with Android, as Google has worked hard to fail to include any of that.

  • "Any" is not "Any" (Score:3, Informative)

    by markdavis (642305) on Friday November 18, 2011 @06:00PM (#38103764)

    >"plug into anything with a screen, USB port, and input device and run your own instance of Android"

    *WRONG*

    The word "anything" could not be more WRONG. It specifically says in the article that you have to run "special software" that is MS-Windows or MacOS *only*. That is not "anything" with a screen. Exactly how would plugging that FXI "computer usb stick" into my Mandriva Linux desktop machine, Xoom Android tablet, my Fedora Linux laptop, or my RHEL server going to give the FXI access to my keyboard, mouse, network, and monitor without very specialized and deeply-rooted software to support it?

    Then, even if it is an MS-Windows or MacOS machine, that doesn't mean it will be able to or allowed to run such alien software.

    The article says it has WiFi, Bluetooth, and HDMI on the FXI, so it has a LOT of possibilities, is fascinating, and really cool. I don't know why the article and the summary have to step out of bounds with such sensationalist stuff like "anything with a monitor".

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday November 18, 2011 @06:13PM (#38103914) Journal

      The word "anything" could not be more WRONG. It specifically says in the article that you have to run "special software" that is MS-Windows or MacOS *only*. That is not "anything" with a screen. Exactly how would plugging that FXI "computer usb stick" into my Mandriva Linux desktop machine, Xoom Android tablet, my Fedora Linux laptop, or my RHEL server going to give the FXI access to my keyboard, mouse, network, and monitor without very specialized and deeply-rooted software to support it?

      The special software in question is only used when you want to run this (and see the output) on top of an already running OS, in a window. It's basically like VNC or RDP. However, they also support standalone operation - from TFA:

      "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. "

      Which basically means that you need to also have an HDMI cable handy.

      • by Chirs (87576)

        It looks like it's got a male usb connector on one end and a male hdmi connector on the other. Just stick it into the hdmi port on the TV/monitor.

        • My understanding is that you still need to plug the USB end somewhere to power it. So you need either a USB extension cable, or an HDMI extension cable.

      • The special software in question is only used when you want to run this (and see the output) on top of an already running OS, in a window. It's basically like VNC or RDP.

        If they were really clever they would make the USB device act like a nic on a private network with the android system the only other device on the network. Then they really could just use bog-standard RDP and it would work with practically anything.

      • "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. "

        Which basically means that you need to also have an HDMI cable handy.

        And a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, neither of which I own.

        We're getting quite a long way from "anything with a usb port", aren't we?

    • by murdocj (543661)

      From TFA: "FXI demonstrated Cotton Candy for the first time by connecting it via HDMI to a 42” HDTV running Android and displaying YouTube videos and 3D games."

      Just what part of the TV was running MS Windows?

      • by markdavis (642305)

        From the summary: "plug into anything with a screen, USB port, and input device "

        How does the FXI connect to and use the input device that was on the HDMI 42" HDTV? Perhaps they connected to a bluetooth keyboard or something, but that is *NOT* using the input device of what was used with the device they plugged it into.

        From FTA: "the worldâ(TM)s first any screen, connected computing USB device."

        And if what if your "screen" has no HDMI port? How is that "any screen"?

        Again, it is a cool device, but say

        • by murdocj (543661)

          The parent I replied to said that it only worked with Windows or Mac. Just because it can't turn a TV into a keyboard, I'm still not seeing the Windows / Mac requirement. Sounds like it works as advertised.

  • Why no wireless DTV transmitter?!! I mean, really, been the twentyfirst century! for like, a decade, now! Why the hell do I need to hook things up with wires or plug them in except for matters of security or power?!!

    you benighted savages disgust me.
    • by Miamicanes (730264) on Friday November 18, 2011 @07:28PM (#38104556)

      Because you'd have to transform the display into a MPEG-2 data stream with maximum bitrate of 19.2mbit/sec, then modulate it onto an 8-VSB carrier (to work in the US) and COFDM (to work in most other places). It's nontrivial. 8-VSB, in particular, is a bitch to do. The wireless video modulator ALONE would have added a MINIMUM of $50 to the manufacturing cost, and THAT'S if they dusted off the Zenith chipset DirecTV was planning to use before the MAFIAA killed their plans for using 8VSB for whole-house HD video distribution over existing 75-ohm cable to keep the development costs down to a minimum.

      Furthermore, 19.2mbit/sec MPEG-2 would utterly suck for high-contrast "computer-type" applications where you're displaying things like windows and rendered text at high resolution and framerates. If you buffered it to take advantage of predictive frames to increase the effective bandwidth, you'd end up with annoying lag. If you tried to do the whole thing with I-frames, your text would be a fuzzy macroblock-ridden mess.

  • I wonder who has the patents on this [idea] registered. Anyone?

  • by TeknoHog (164938) on Friday November 18, 2011 @06:15PM (#38103938) Homepage Journal
    or about the mass of a human soul [imdb.com].
  • Running Android for now, but plans are to offer an Ubuntu version, as well as Windows 8

    ... the ARM-based hardware can run Ubuntu Linux currently and future versions should be able to run the ARM version of Windows 8

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Yes, I can't wait to install Windows 8 on my device and artificially restrict my sources of software to the Microsoft web store.

  • Scandinavians again. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Friday November 18, 2011 @06:39PM (#38104198) Homepage Journal
    Again scandinavians with an innovation. after first osmosis power plant, wood chip power plant, and many more. not to mention software (linux).

    behold how social democracy (Called socialism in u.s.), govt. funded education, social security etc leaves a nation behind in development and innovation.

    ............ not. that is despite compared to u.s. and the resources, riches and population it has, scandinavia is not even comparable. in total they dont even amount to good 10 mil+ population. resources - almost none. colonies and satellite nations - none. nothing. nada.
    • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      http://babylon5.wikia.com/wiki/Swedish_meatballs [wikia.com]

      "Swedish meatballs, an Earth ground meat delicacy that is something of an interstellar mystery. Every spacefaring race is known to have a food identical to Swedish meatballs, be it Narn Breen or Centauri Prime's Roopo balls. Even races as diverse as the Abbai, Drazi and even the Gaim all have an equivalent dish, though the Centauri are the only ones with the audacity to claim they are the ones who invented it."

    • by citizenr (871508)

      Again scandinavians with an innovation.

      look, a RETARDED person posting on slashdot

      http://armdevices.net/2011/05/06/25-arm-powered-desktop-presented-by-raspberry-pi-foundation/ [armdevices.net]

      behold how social democracy (Called socialism in u.s.), govt. funded education, social security etc leaves a nation behind in development and that is despite compared to u.s.

      and that retard is from US, what a surprise

    • Sweden has got 9 million.
      Norway and denmark a bit over 5 each.
      So almost 20 million.

    • Again scandinavians with an innovation. after first osmosis power plant, wood chip power plant, and many more. not to mention software (linux).

      What has Scandinavia got to do with Linux?

  • c'mon people, how many articles and devices have we read about but have never actually been commercially available? tons, just add another item to the list. It'll have to be Less than $100 or it doesn't compete with similar, all be it larger, TV boxes.

  • This isn't a new idea, it's a "me too". What, suddenly nobody on /. has heard of Raspberry Pi?

    http://slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=raspberry+pi [slashdot.org]
    http://www.raspberrypi.org/ [raspberrypi.org]

    A 1.2GHz dual core CPU is all very nice, but you can run full-on Desktop Linux with considerably more frugal resources and produce a device that's considerably cheaper as a result. It seems bizarre to have over-specified the hardware and under-specified the software stack.

  • No HDMI output. Simply rasterize the video into an .mkv container... Plug the stick into the USB port, use the TV's onscreen menu to navigate to 'playme.mkv' (or whatever container these TV's support) and the movie is your video output.

  • ... Or two. It might not be for everyone, but it's something I'd like to use for a few random ideas.

  • OMG OMG OMG.... daddy wants!

  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@ y a hoo.com> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @12:52PM (#38109072)

    Use info from Cherry Pi for hardware, snag an OS from the open source world, then attach a bullshit proprietary interface "FXI’s patent protected Any Screen Virtualization Protocol"? Interesting.

    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      LOL. Note to self. Self, never listen to Runaways while posting.

      Hardware info from Raspberry Pi was what I meant to write.

  • I think this would be classified "For the Geek who has everything category" lol
  • by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @01:37PM (#38109334)

    I wonder... does anyone else realize this could be used to create upgradeable smartphones? You would have a phone with touchscreen and battery, with a recessed USB port. Then just slide this device in, and in a couple years when you want to upgrade buy a new usb stick PC. If they could fit the baseband radio in this device that would be truly revolutionary.

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