Can 'Project Ophelia' Save Dell?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Dell ( DELL) has a lot riding on a new device currently in the testing stage known simply as "Project Ophelia." In its basic form, it's an Android PC "on a stick". Dell is betting that Ophelia can revolutionize a troubled PC industry and help reinvent the Austin-based company

Ophelia looks like an ordinary USB memory "thumb drive" but has been designed to "perform like a computer" without needing a laptop or a tablet. The device plugs into any HDMI or MHL port on a computer display or compatible TV. Users will be able to access information from the "cloud." Actually, anyone's cloud: Dell's, Apple's ( AAPL), Microsoft's ( MSFT) and Google's ( GOOG). It will also access Citrix ( CTSX) or WMware ( VMW) files. It will also access Citrix ( CTXS) or VMware ( VMW) files.

The device will reportedly turn any HDMI-equipped screen into a computer, gaming or streaming media device. Unlike Google's just-announced Chromecast plug-in streaming dongle, Ophelia seems to be geared toward the enterprise user.

Dell shares were rising 0.1% to $12.89 in mid-day trading in New York.

The idea behind Ophelia is deceptively simple. It's an ultra-portable computer, a thin-portal for business connections, a portal for Web apps and a stand-alone device for local apps and content. Ophelia should allow users to handle everything from presentations to playing online games.

The device runs on the Android operating system which means it will be able to access the Google Play store's library of thousands of apps. But, Ophelia will also be able to take advantage of cloud-based applications from other providers. Device set-up and control is performed via Dell's new Wyse Cloud Client Manager software.

Ophelia's biggest selling point could be its price. Insiders estimate that it will sell for around $100. Dell is said to be shipping beta samples to testers at the moment. That means the micro PC could be ready for official launch by year's end.

Ophelia could be just what Dell needs to help reinvent itself and take advantage of the current shift from onboard hard drive-based computing to cloud-based systems. Ophelia could play a large part in determining the long-term future of the company currently mired in a fight over founder Michael Dell's bid to take the company private.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to: tips@thestreet.com.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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