'Cotton Candy' USB stick puts an Android PC on any screen

Believe it or not, FXI Tech's "Cotton Candy" USB/HDMI stick is an entire PC with Android 2.3 inside and it turns any display with a USB or HDMI port into a 1.2GHz dual-core PC.

The Cotton Candy is similar to the $25 Raspberry Pi PC on a USB stick — only more powerful. In addition to the ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor, there's also quad-core ARM Mali 400 MP GPU, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a micro SD slot for storage (up to 64GB).

Specs aside, let's talk how smooth the Cotton Candy is. From our brief demo, everything seemed to run decently, for most part (this is only Android). There were two demo units — one attached to a huge HDTV and the other to a MacBook Air. If you're connecting the Cotton Candy to a display via HDMI, you'll also need to attach a USB extension cable to a power source as the former can't draw any power.

Web browsing on a TV worked flawlessly, with the Cotton Candy connecting to the Internet with its own Wi-Fi chip. Obviously, it can't turn an HDTV into a huge touchscreen, so you'll still need a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for navigation. HD video looked sharp as well.

On the MacBook Air, the Cotton Candy opens up as a disk image and loads Android 2.3 as an app loaded on the USB. We saw a demo of Angry Birds and we didn't see it choke up one bit.

Apps are another story. Because the Cotton Candy isn't a product that's Google-approved, there's no Android Market access. You'll need to sideload to get third-party apps on it. Speaking of apps, because many games on Android are made for touch screens or motion controls, let's just say playing more complex Android games with a mouse and keyboard isn't particularly great. Sometimes it fumbled and flipped the screen upside down on the TV.

FXI's CEO Borgar Ljosland says they're shooting for a mass release of the Cotton Candy in the second half of 2012 for about $200.

We're intrigued by the promise that the Cotton Candy can bring, especially since its most useful feature seems to be to bring the Internet to non Internet-enabled TVs and displays. It's a bold plan, but that $200 price tag isn't sitting too well with some of the other reporters that took a peek at it.

But just stop and think for a second how this could change computing. Theoretically, if we all carried a Cotton Candy around, we wouldn't need to bring a laptop around. For example, the TV in a hotel room could be transformed into a PC. It's an idealistic vision at best, but one that could become a reality in a few years as mobile processors become powerful enough to replace desktop ones.

Via FXI Tech

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