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FXI Cotton Candy USB/HDMI dongle displays Android on any screen

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November 20, 2011

Cotton Candy is a USB/HDMI stick designed to add Android-based smart capabilities to any H...

Cotton Candy is a USB/HDMI stick designed to add Android-based smart capabilities to any HDMI or USB-equipped device

Norwegian startup company FXI has demoed a clever USB/HDMI stick designed to add Android-based smart capabilities to any HDMI or USB-equipped device. Codenamed Cotton Candy, the inconspicuous USB flash drive-shaped dongle packs quite powerful hardware, including a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and a quad-core GPU that handles 1080p video. Think of it as perhaps the world's smallest screenless computer.

Described as a sort of bridge between a display and input peripheral, Cotton Candy allows devices to access online services, run apps, or play multimedia files anywhere suitable for the user. The only requirement is a display with a USB or HDMI port (in this case, a USB power cord is needed as well) and a separate input accessory, such as a Bluetooth keyboard.

Cotton Candy is also suitable as an accessory for smartphones, tablets and laptops. The company apparently believes that users would like to access the Android system even on those devices that normally run a different OS, such as Windows or iOS. Along with Android 2.3, Cotton Candy also comes preloaded with Ubuntu.

The prototype is equipped with WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, 1GB of RAM, a micro SD slot supporting up to 64GB cards, as well as a USB 2.0 male connector and HDMI 2.1 with audio for devices without USB mass storage support. Multimedia file support includes up to 1080p resolution MPEG4-SP/H.263/H.264 AVC/MPEG-2/VC1 video files, MP3, AAC, AAC+, Real Audio formats and JPG, GIF, BMP, and PNG graphic files.

The stick is powered via USB, which means an additional power source is needed only if connected through HDMI. Given its numerous features and powerful hardware, Cotton Candy's weight and dimensions are pretty impressive, at 21 grams (0.7 oz) and 2.5 x 8 cm (0.9 x 3.1 in).

FXI is currently providing sample prototypes of Cotton Candy to its business partners from various industries including hardware, mobile phones, and in-car entertainment. There are no details regarding the price, although it is rumored to be under US$200. The company expects the unit to be introduced somewhere in the second half of 2012.

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6 Comments

Great idea. I always wanted to run Andoid on my Windows operating system....

Richie Suraci
21st November, 2011 @ 04:38 pm PST

Under $200? Sweet! I could plug this right into my old crappy touch screen phone on which the only thing that works is the screen and have a brand new android. That is amazing.

I wonder about how they plan on connecting it to things though. If you use the HDMI plug, you need a power source. How do they plan on doing that? I don't recall there being any female USB charging cords. The Bluetooth keyboards and mice they mentioned would need charging too (male charging cords). That is kind of counter-productive if the whole point of this thing is for logistics and saving money. But, save for those minor errors, this system seems like an awesome idea. I want one. And a chain so I don't forget to unplug it.

Ethan Brush
23rd November, 2011 @ 07:40 pm PST

Not sure this really adds anything that cannot be accomplished with a HDMI cable from a netbook with a HDMI port. If I need a keyboard I might as well use the one on a 10-11 inch netbook and then have all the apps running as usual and WiFi for internet access and to connect to a 802.11 equipped TV (like my Sony Bravia).

What is smart is that the device can draw power from the connection port for its operation. Needing a separate input device. If it was mated to an iPhone it would be great for travel and for corporate presentations where all that is needed is a larger display.

Calson
28th November, 2011 @ 11:29 am PST

I think its a great idea, plugging it into the back of your tv and using it as a streaming media player, there would be nothing better, netflix or any other app on android available right there. The ability to use your phone/ipad/ipod/blue tooth keyboard and mouse to control it, means less clutter and wires in the entertainment center.

@Ethan Brush, most phones now come with a wall socket that has the usb plug on it that no one ever uses, that in combination with a male to female usb extension cable would be all you would need for power. Also the ability to use the apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse would be great, very low power consumption resulting in great battery life.

@Calson, why would you want to tether yourself via HDMI cable to your tv, and be limited to where you could sit, or be stuck with a cable running across your floor?

Dan Burdett
10th December, 2011 @ 08:29 am PST

Is it better than the $25 Raspberry Pi?

Captain Obvious
9th January, 2012 @ 08:23 am PST

why do you want to spend $200 on this gadget that you can not be able to install apps or other stuff, when with around $245 you can buy a 10.1 inch tablet with a HDMI mini port and plug it into most devices with an hdmi port like HDTV. ?

samuelr2008
9th January, 2012 @ 08:38 am PST
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