People have been building integrated Linux thin clients that can fit in the palm of your hand for years, but now there's a more modern approach. Startup company FXI Technologies has applied the same idea to Android, putting a fully functional build of Gingerbread on a flash-drive sized device with easy connection to HDMI displays and input devices. The gadget is at the prototype stage now, but the company hopes to sell it for $200 by this time next year.
Here's how it works: plug an HDMI cable into one end, and a USB power cable into the other. Turn the unit on, and presto, Gingerbread appears on the monitor and HDTV. You can add a keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth, external storage comes from an on-board MicroSD card slot, and it connects to local networks via WiFi. The gadget is no slouch when it comes to specs, either: a 1.2Ghz ARM processor and a full gig of RAM put it in the same category as all but the highest-end smartphones available today.
The applications are endless. A cheap machine for Netflix streaming and Android gaming, a retail display that's easy to set up and change, or a remote desktop client - and that's just the obvious ideas, You can also load up Cotton Candy on a laptop or desktop for an easy quick-boot environment or windowed Android, if you're so inclined. Though it's only running Gingerbread at the moment, FXI should be more than capable of loading up some open-source Ice Cream Sandwich in a year's time.