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Meet "Ophelia," Dell's Plan To Reinvent Itself 280

Posted by samzenpus
from the step-right-up dept.
redletterdave writes "Dell is reportedly working on a project codenamed 'Ophelia,' a USB stick-sized self-contained computer that provides access to virtually every major operating system — from the Mac OS, to Windows, to Google's Chrome OS, to cloud-based solutions from Citrix and Dell — all via the cloud. Powered by Android, Ophelia works just like a USB stick: Just plug it into any flat panel monitor or TV, and boom, you have a computer. Ophelia connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and can connect to keyboards and other peripherals over Bluetooth. Not only is the computer portable and power-efficient, but to make it truly accessible, Dell plans to sell the device for just $50."
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Meet "Ophelia," Dell's Plan To Reinvent Itself

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  • by ThorGod (456163) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:29PM (#42611865) Journal

    PCs are cumbersome, heavy and slow. Ophelia provides a computer experience as typical and fast as any other computer -- again, everything depends on the Internet connection -- but at a fraction of the weight. PCs can’t fit in your pocket; Ophelia can. Heck, you could probably stick anywhere between two to five of those computers into a normal pants pocket.

    1.) Talk about hyperbole, batman.
    2.) I imagine the lag will be horrendous.
    3.) Over wireless?

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:39PM (#42611975)

      PCs are cumbersome, heavy and slow. Ophelia provides a computer experience as typical and fast as any other computer -- again, everything depends on the Internet connection -- but at a fraction of the weight. PCs can’t fit in your pocket; Ophelia can. Heck, you could probably stick anywhere between two to five of those computers into a normal pants pocket.

      1.) Talk about hyperbole, batman.
      2.) I imagine the lag will be horrendous.
      3.) Over wireless?

      I regularly VPN over my home Wifi connection to work and run Windows remotely via rdp and it works quite well. Not quite as snappy as a long machine, but works well enough that I don't bother to bring my Windows laptop home to do work, I just remote into the terminal server at work.

      It's a lot less seamless over a celluar Mifi device, but still usable.

      I don't see why this device wouldn't be usable.

      • by tepples (727027) <tepples@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:46PM (#42612059) Homepage Journal

        It's a lot less seamless over a celluar Mifi device, but still usable.

        I don't see why this device wouldn't be usable.

        I'm under the impression that the the cellular data bill (assuming the U.S. market, where Dell and Dice are headquartered) would make it cost prohibitive.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          It's a lot less seamless over a celluar Mifi device, but still usable.

          I don't see why this device wouldn't be usable.

          I'm under the impression that the the cellular data bill (assuming the U.S. market, where Dell and Dice are headquartered) would make it cost prohibitive.

          I have no idea how much my work pays for my Mifi, so I was commenting on the usability of RDP over cell, not the price, but I think few people will have an HD TV without also having a hardwired internet connection.

      • by ThorGod (456163)

        I forget the name of the place...but there was someone trying to sell game streaming like this. Their hardware would run the games and the results were piped to you. But that company went out of business from lack of demand, with many user complaints centered on lag.

        So...color me skeptical.

        Maybe this will have a niche with people like my dad? He definitely needs a familiar interface and doesn't care about gaming...

      • by scdeimos (632778)

        Second this. I work from home two or three days a week, using a Linux or OSX client (depending on what I have with me at the time) to RDP over a VPN link over ADSL to my Windows-based development machines at the office. Quite usable as a desktop environment, although it cannot be used for anything remotely video-intensive like games or YouTube.

        That said, even for just desktop use there are huge speed/latency differences between various RDP clients. I've tried several on Linux and haven't found one that work

        • by ArhcAngel (247594)
          Have you tried Splashtop [splashtop.com] before? They recently released their streamer [splashtop.com] for Linux (there is a video showing a tablet accessing an Ubuntu DT browsing /. ) and have said they will soon be releasing a client for Linux as well. I use their client on my PlayBook to access both my work and home PCs.
    • They expect me to do serious "desktop work" via portable high-latency device in the 'cloud' environment using Android?
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        They expect me to do serious "desktop work" via portable high-latency device in the 'cloud' environment using Android?

        Why do you care what operating system runs on the device? You're doing your work on the desktop running on the cloud, the Dell box is just the display for that remote cloud desktop. It coudl be Android, IOS, WebOS, or even a new DellOS and it shouldn't make any difference at all to the end user.

        • by Gerzel (240421)

          The real issue is with the companies' data being in the cloud. Especially if Dell insists that you use their cloud with their devices.

    • by JanneM (7445)

      I do ssh and X forwarding to machines across the country on a daily basis for work. Works just fine, even with fairly graphical applications. Other types of desktop forwarding should work similarly well in practice.

      • Except they're not doing ssh or x forwarding, they must be doing vnc. VNC is usable, but not particularly nice much of the time over regular coonnections.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          It depends on the content and there's a crossover point where X is better than VNC and vice versa.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            You're right, if you're staring at a mostly static display, VNC is just great.

            Try doing everything you do on a computer via VNC over a residential connection to the Internet. Now do you want to pay Dell $19.95 a month for the privilege? Are you going to call it a game changer?

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      RDP via VPN is very usable, and it will only get better. RDP from windows to windows machines is very, very good. It's one of the very few things Microsoft does better than anybody else. VirtualBox has excellent RDP support as well, and it's extremely fast and easy to use.
       
      Thin clients have finally arrived... just in a way nobody ever expected.

    • If it is anything like Teradici PCoIP, it'll be great. A great many PC users out there just get one so they can browse the web, check Facebook, and use MS Office. None of these require extensive bandwidth to present to a thin client.
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      PCs are cumbersome, heavy and slow. Ophelia provides a computer experience as typical and fast as any other computer -- again, everything depends on the Internet connection -- but at a fraction of the weight. PCs can’t fit in your pocket; Ophelia can. Heck, you could probably stick anywhere between two to five of those computers into a normal pants pocket.

      1.) Talk about hyperbole, batman. 2.) I imagine the lag will be horrendous. 3.) Over wireless?

      Think of it as your smartphone minus the touchscreen, GPS, cellular radio, speaker, microphone and battery. You can make it pretty damn small.

    • by ikaruga (2725453)
      I don't think the lag will be horrendous. Nowadays, we can stream movies and even play video games(gaikai, onlive, Playstation remote play) over the cloud. VNC servers are also pretty common on a professional environment and they work great. Considering the great majority of people just use their computers for social networking and office, both activities in which the screen barely changes and only require low frequency input, from a technical point of view I just don't see the problem. There is definitely
  • The "Cloud" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:32PM (#42611887)
    I can't be the only one who's creeped out about this. All my data in "the cloud"... I know, I know, it's been going on for years, but me, I like my data on my own machine away from anyone else. The is just more devolution of the power of the individual & transferring it to others, who may not necessarily have the individual's best interests in mind. Keep your little machine Dell.
    • V2.0, no doubt destined for Kickstarter momentarily courtesy of some local hacker, would probably have onboard storage for your data to deal with just such a concern.

    • Re:The "Cloud" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:44PM (#42612019)

      I can't be the only one who's creeped out about this. All my data in "the cloud"... I know, I know, it's been going on for years, but me, I like my data on my own machine away from anyone else. The is just more devolution of the power of the individual & transferring it to others, who may not necessarily have the individual's best interests in mind. Keep your little machine Dell.

      You may not be the only one who's afraid of the cloud, but for most people, their data is safer in the "cloud" than it is at home on their old PC that has no backups. It could even be safer against hack attacks if the provider keeps applications patched so no one is still running a buggy unpatched MSIE 6 on WinXP.

      • Re:The "Cloud" (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Osgeld (1900440) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:18PM (#42612355)

        even better, when they screw up and delete something they did not mean to, and go looking for it later, they have someone to blame

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          even better, when they screw up and delete something they did not mean to, and go looking for it later, they have someone to blame

          Or they could just look in the "Trash" folder at their cloud provider. Google Drive retains "Trash" items indefinitely until you choose to empty the trash folder.

          If I'm editing a document and accidentally screw it up, I can just revert to a previous version.

          I use Google Docs almost exclusively for creating documents even though I have MS Office and Libre Office readily available, and I have a reasonable backup policy for my home computers, including offsite backups. I use Google Docs more because the docs a

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        The amount of "data" on my home computers that is actually worth keeping would probably all fit on a £10 USB stick; but that's not the stuff I worry about going to "the cloud".

        What I don't want "in the cloud" is all my incidental data- browser usage, emails (in any more cloud locations than are necessary to have a webmail service, anyway), shopping habits, bank login details, etc. All of that stuff is currently on my home computers, and is obviously not backed up (intentionally). No-one has access to

    • by multiben (1916126)
      I could not agree with you more. There are just too many people in between you and your data who could either accidentally or deliberately prevent you accessing it.
      • That's why many cloud services offer sync services so you can keep a local copy (ie Dropbox). Cloud 1, FUD 0.
    • by Albanach (527650)

      I can't be the only one who's creeped out about this. All my data in "the cloud".

      Then you're not the target market. For the vast majority, I'm will to guess the providers will have better backup procedures than most homes.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        And better data mining techniques too. Anyone who believes that Dell or any other company doing something like this (Apple) won't leverage this level of control into dictating what the user sees is engaging in wishful thinking. Consheepmers might see the device as a convenience, but Dell will see it as a marketing tool & will be in total control of whatever information it provides. This whole movement away from PCs to handheld devices (tablets/smartphones) represents a paradigm shift away from local con
    • by ADRA (37398)

      You weren't going to buy it anyways, so was anything of value lost?

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Your hardware is the only way to get to words before they are encrypted.
      Who wants to pass packets loaded with ad revenue as just another computer maker?
      The cash is in the content and with a device like this data is still in plain text before its lost to encryption.
      Contact your HQ about a cpu, gpu deal in a "secure" way and then surf the web in a hotel room - that brand will be back at you all night.
      Your message was secure, your later web surfing was unrelated to work - but the gateway, cookies, cloud ar
  • Mac OS my a$$ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Radical Moderate (563286) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:36PM (#42611939)
    I'm willing to bet very, very many internets that Apple hasn't authorized any Mac OS running from this device.
    Not.
    Gonna.
    Happen.
    • by p0p0 (1841106)
      Don't need to RTFA but at least RTFS properly.
    • by tepples (727027)
      How would the community react if the license for the next version of Mac OS X were to forbid VNCing to a Mac from anything but a Mac?
      • Re:VNC (Score:4, Informative)

        by scdeimos (632778) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:13PM (#42612301)

        First Apple doesn't own the VNC technology, so they can't legally enforce that.

        Second, although OSX's "remote desktop" software listens on VNC's tcp/5900 for incoming connections, for remote OSX clients it uses Apple's custom Type 35 Diffie-Hellman authentication/private key exchange and then switches to an AES128-encrypted link to run Apple's own RDP protocol. i.e.: it's not even VNC protocol.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        How would the community react if the license for the next version of Mac OS X were to forbid VNCing to a Mac from anything but a Mac?

        TFS speaks about:

        provides access to virtually every major operating system — [...]all via the cloud

        Where did you get VNC?

        • by tepples (727027)

          all via the cloud

          Where did you get VNC?

          Similar services such as OnLive run various applications on various operating systems in "the cloud" (which means someone's server). The protocol used to push their output to the thin client is analogous to VNC or RDP. And from what I could Google on short notice, the remote desktop protocol used by Mac OS X either is VNC or can fall back to VNC.

    • MacOS won't be running from this device. It'll be running from a Mac, which this device will be a remote terminal to.

    • by ghjm (8918)

      It wouldn't be running from this device. Dell would, notionally, have rack cabinets full of Mac Minis in some data center somewhere. To the user, it's all just the "cloud."

      • Connecting to your personal Mac will probably happen. Even is Apple doesn't like it, somebody will figure out a hack.

        Dell, or anyone else, setting up virtual Macs for you and me to use? No. I've been in several meetings with Apple reps, and whenever we bring up virtualization things get real awkward. Unless Apple decides to set up the servers themselves, and that they're tired of selling iMacs and iBooks.
    • Re:Mac OS my a$$ (Score:5, Informative)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:38PM (#42612531) Homepage Journal

      Remember, MacOS is on the slow-kill list. It's been slowly merging with iOS and Apple doesn't want to develop two OS's. If 'Mac' still exists in 10 years, it might be the iPhone having a 'Mac Mode' where to goes full-screen to a wirelessly-connected K/V/M. But for 'pros' who need more CPU, rather than building it into the phone (where it will eat power and transistor budget) they might offer the option to buy compute power from the cloud (with Apple taking 30% of whatever anybody makes on it).

      In fact, if a $50 Dell dongle has the CPU power to do a 'Mac Mode', we could even see this launching in June on the next iPhone from Apple. Sure, they make a good profit on every hardware Mac they sell, but if they can make the same profit by renting the hardware time and expand their userbase to every iPhone user (with seamless data sync, naturally) then they'll go for the better revenue stream. That will make the phase-out of the Mac that much easier.

      Apple dropped "computer" from its name in 2007, when the iPhone was just starting its upward trajectory and the iPod was on fire. A lot changed that year, as the company changed its primary focus to mobile and outlined a long-term plan to leave the desktop market.

    • Re:Mac OS my a$$ (Score:5, Informative)

      by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:42PM (#42612555) Homepage

      I'm willing to bet very, very many internets that Apple hasn't authorized any Mac OS running from this device.

      Not.
      Gonna.
      Happen.

      Don't
      Understand.
      Device.

      It's just a linux boot running VNC client. The actual workstations are back in a datacenter somewhere, and they will be actual Apple certified Macs, running VNC server. I'm really amazed that no one has done this sooner. The one thing you can't do is really graphics intensive games, like shooters.

  • by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:40PM (#42611977) Homepage
    The first thing I think of when I hear the name is going insane and dieing in a river
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:40PM (#42611985) Homepage

    It really is amazing how the IT industry continues to re-invent what was done decades ago.

  • Dumb(er) Terminal
  • by mtrachtenberg (67780) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @09:58PM (#42612141) Homepage

    Dell's R&D must be working overtime to come up with a clever new idea like that.

    Here's another "someday" idea they can pursue: put a 5" crt, two floppy drives, and a Z80 in a suitcase. Call it a "portable" computer!!

  • USB, not. (Score:5, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @10:13PM (#42612299)
    The summary implies this somehow connects to a USB port on a monitor. I was curious how it would then do video. Answer - it doesn't use USB. It's actually made to connect to an MHL [mhlconsortium.org] port, which isn't nearly as widespread as either HDMI or USB. MHL doesn't use a specific connector - although it's quite common for it to be provided as an alternative to USB over a micro-USB connector (some smartphones do this). But, it's one or the other - you can't do both at once over a USB connector. MHL ports provide power, where HDMI ones don't (well, 5V@50mA, which ain't much) - which is the reason they're doing it that way. (there are also some proprietary connectors with more pins which will accept a USB plug, or a proprietary plug which allows simultaneous USB and MHL)
  • Apple selling Android devices.

    This is just an announcement at CES. Doesn't mean shit. Dell stopped shipping Linux tablets... why? Dell makes Linux laptops pricier and more difficult to get than Windows ones...why?

    So Dell is planning to 'reinvent' itself on an Android based Rapberry-Pi kind of form factor device; which it hopes people will buy from Dell despite its name rhyming with Hell? Good. I'll believe it when I see it.

  • It's from Wyse, so it's basically a "thin client". Don't get me wrong, Wyse makes good thin clients, but it's not fundamentally different than anything out there already. It's basically a way to run "VDI" (Virtual Desktop Interface) from your pocket.

    OK, cool enough, but I can already do that with an app on my smart phone. I can run a plethora of thin client software - Citrix, VMware, Webex, PCAnywhere, Microsoft RDP, VNC... what else? The only unique thing I see here is that you can attach to a larger e

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      It does turn Google and Apple device into nothing more than $200-1000 dumb input units.
      Your international computer is now a Dell and friends of Dell out of the box.
      Its all race to the default settings and who gets closer to the user before they https.
  • Reinvent yourself by copying cheap Chinese products that are already available for ~$45 and charging 10% more.

  • >" that provides access to virtually every major operating system â" from the Mac OS, to Windows, to Google's Chrome OS, to cloud-based solutions from Citrix and Dell â" all via the cloud"

    Virtually every major operating system and yet Linux is not mentioned... typical. Change "virtually" to "most" and that might be accurate. Of course the article doesn't have many useful details.

    $50? Yeah right, and then some monthly "service fee", no doubt. And then you have to trust Dell's "cloud" with al

  • by RedHackTea (2779623) on Wednesday January 16, 2013 @11:40PM (#42612977)
    "Dude, I'm getting Oph!"
  • They will just start building the functionality into the monitor. This will be the default behavior of the monitors unless you are feeling "inelegant" and decide to plug something into the inputs. Then the Dell shiny toy is a paperweight.

    In fact, the internal processor power of a monitor should be able to run this with spare cycles.

    The endgame is to use the usb ports on the monitor to connect drives and allow storage. Bing!

    • by Marrow (195242)

      It gets fun when they give you a button to switch back and forth between PC inputs and android screen. Then you can use the monitor to select where your keyboard and mouse events go. To the android or to the PC.

  • by k8to (9046) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @02:21AM (#42613963) Homepage

    It's a bird!
    It's a Sun Ray!
    It's an X Terminal!
    It's... It's... a failure.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @08:26AM (#42615331) Homepage

    Ophelia works just like a USB port

    Err, does it? A USB port is a slot for plugging USB devices into. This is a teeny tiny computer that you plug into a display.

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