On Monday this week, ARM together with FXI Technologies presented our proof-of-concept demonstration of DLNA Consumer Video HTML5 Remote User Interface (RUI) at as of the Innovation Showcase at the CableLabs Winter Conference in Orlando (see video at the end of this blog). Based on open source components including Linaro,Ubuntu, Gstreamer, and QT Webkit, the proof-of-concept demo highlights a major trend and disruption in the traditional Set-Top Box space defining the evolution towards in three key areas:
New exciting form factors enabled by ultra-low power silicon originally developed for the Smartphone
There are a variety of cheap HDMI PCs-on-a-stick on the market today. Most are loaded with Google’s popular Android operating system, allowing users to easily run apps and stream media on big screen TVs in the living room.
So it comes as little surprise that ARM is reportedly working on a software platform which would allow cable companies to deliver live and on-demand TV using a device about the size of a flash drive. ARM is also reportedly working directly with hardware maker FXI Technologies on an HDMI stick called the Cotton Candy PC on a stick. The device is officially classified as a hardware prototype at this point.
“The most important feature separating the Cotton Candy from its competitors is its Any Screen capability. Like other micro-computers, the Cotton Candy can draw power from a Micro-USB power adapter and display its user interface via HDMI, but its unique Client model enables the device to run as an independent environment inside a window on another computer running Linux, Windows, or OS X; hence “Any Screen.””
“Our first article about the FXI Cotton Candy computer on a stick was so popular that it shattered all sorts of traffic records last fall. A tiny computer the size and shape of a USB key, the Cotton Candy captured your imagination because it can take over any screen — even your PC or Mac — and turn it into an Android or Linux workstation. Nearly a year after Norwegian startup FXI first demoed the product, the company began selling beta devices to select developers. We’re among that fortunate few and have been able to play with the device and monitor its development over the past few weeks. What we’ve experienced is not just a intriguing mobile device but the beginnings of a powerful new platform.”
“In November 2011, the world did not know that it would be possible to pack a 1080p capable GPU, a 1.2 GHz CPU, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth into a USB stick sized device until FXI Technologies demonstrated the Cotton Candy™ any screen micro computer in fabulous New York. Something happened when we did that. First of all, it showcased the possibilities enabled by the ARM ecosystem. FXI was a small, but dedicated team in Norway and South Korea that had pulled out something new and sweet (some would say fluffy) from the magic hat of innovation. Second, it showed the world that high-end ARM SoCs are not confined to smart phones and tablets and mobile devices, but can drive any screen and any potential application. There is an ongoing string of innovation validating this point since, most recently with the announcement of the ARM-powered Samsung Chromebook.”
“The FXI Cotton Candy is a tiny computer that’s about the size of a USB flash drive. One one side is a USB port, and on the other is an HDMI connector. And in between there’s a 1.2 GHz Samsung Exynos 4210 dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and ARM Mali 400 graphics.
It’s been a little over a year since FXI first introduced the Cotton Candy, and in that time we’ve seen dozens of cheap Android devices that you can plug into a television, some costing less than $50. But FXI charges $199 for the Cotton Candy.
I caught up with FXI CEO Borgar Ljosland recently and had a chance to ask him what sets the Cotton Candy apart.”
A computer the size of a USB stick, the FXI Cotton Candy can connect to any screen or run in a window on your PC, Mac or Linux box. FXI CEO Borgar Ljosland,joined us for a Google Hangout to demo this exciting product and answer our questions.
“The FXI Cotton Candy is a tiny computer with an ARM Cortex-A9 processor, Mali 400 graphics, and Android 4.0 software. It’s been in development for almost a year, and last week FXI started shipping the little PC-on-a-stick to customers that had pre-ordered.
“We’ve heard about the FXI Cotton Candy a lot over the past year, but it still hasn’t made it into the hands of users and developers. First detailed last year, we then received some hands-on back in February with the Android powered USB stick. Today however, we’ve learned this PC and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on a thumb drive is shipping now for just $199.”
“Is that an Ice Cream Sandwich riding shotgun atop your Cotton Candy stick? It may sound like a delicious carnival delight, but munching on this bad boy will send you to the hospital faster than a family pack of deep-fried Oreos. Keeping up the confection theme, FXI has coined the treat in question as Cotton Candy, and we got our first taste of the refresh back in February at Mobile World Congress, where we went hands-on with the bite-size computer-on-a-stick. FXI reps promised a March ship date at that point, but the refreshed model appears to have been worth the wait, with a 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor, quad-core ARM Mali-400MP graphics and support for Android 4.0 and Ubuntu, along with embedded virtualization clients for Windows, Linux and Mac.”