Always Innovating's HDMI dongle turns any HDTV into a "Smart" TV
By Emily Price
January 8, 2012
Now you don't necessarily need to own a "Smart TV" in order to get Android apps on your television. Always Innovating will be showing off its HDMI dongle at CES this week, a compact device that can turn any HDTV into a Smart TV. Essentially Always Innovating's HDMI Dongle is a portable version of a set-top box. The device is based on the Texas Instruments Cortex-A9 OMAP 4 ,which can run from 1GHz to 1.8GHz depending of the configuration, and offers 1GB of RAM as well as a micro SD card for local storage.
The dongle can run on Ice Cream Sandwich, can stream and decode 1080p H.264 video from the Internet, and is compatible with popular streaming-video services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. The device is controlled using a special 9-button remote that is capable of interpreting voice inputs and features near field communication (NFC) technology to offer tap-to-share capabilities.
Once you've connected the dongle, which is powered via USB, to your "dumb TV" you can surf the web, watch movies, and play games online like you might on larger devices put out by the competition. The device is also both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-capable so it can be connected to both the Web and any compatible accessories you might want to use along with it.
While Always Innovating will be showing off its HDMI dongle this week at CES in Las Vegas, the company will not be producing the device for commercial sale; however, it intends on licensing it to others. The company says that the technology used in the dongle could also be "be used as the heart of a tablet or MID device."
Always Innovating's HDMI dongle is very similar to the Roku Streaming Stick, which was also announced this week. Roku's stick takes the power of a traditional Roku box and places it on a USB stick-sized device that can also transform any HDTV into a "Smart TV." Roku's Streaming Stick is expected to be available in stores later this year for US$50 - $100.
Here's a video of the Always Innovating HDMI Dongle being demoed by company founder Grégoire Gentil a couple of months back running Gingerbread.