Always Innovating‘s HDMI Dongle has a mundane name but packs plenty into its thumbdrive-scale casing: a TI Cortex-A9 OMAP 4 processor running Ice Cream Sandwich, turning any TV into a full Android computer. Running at between 1GHz and 1.8GHz depending on load, the HDMI Dongle packs the same specs as a decent smartphone: a healthy 1GB of RAM, microSD, WiFi and Bluetooth, with support for up to 1080p Full HD and H.264 video decoding.
Since you can’t exactly jab your fingers at your TV, a nine-button remote does duty for controlling the interface. There’s also Android’s voice-to-text for dictating emails, URLs and more. Squeezed into the remote is an accelerometer, for motion-controlled gaming, and you can reach around the back of your TV and tap your phone against the HDMI Dongle as it has an NFC chip too.
Streaming Netflix, Hulu and other video-on-demand services is the obvious use, but big-screen browsing and other multimedia playback are also on the cards. Android’s selection of gaming apps is increasing all the time, and the HDMI Dongle should have the grunt to keep up with most current titles.
Unfortunately, Always Innovating seems to have learnt from its struggles with the Touch Book hybrid tablet and has decided not to offer the HDMI Dongle directly. Instead, it will be licensing the design to others, with the first such example expected to go on sale this coming summer. Whether it will look exactly like this remains to be seen, though; Always Innovating is positioning the guts of the dongle as ideal for powering a tablet, too. The promise is that it will all be open-source, too.
Pricing is expected to be in the region of $79 upwards.