Sometime in the last couple of weeks, $work picked up a Dell Wyse Cloud Connect. The Cloud Connect is essentially a thin client as a stick – it looks like an oversized thumb drive with an HDMI connection where the USB connection would be.
The old saying goes “Big things come in little packages.” The package is little, but the only big thing that comes with it is potential. The idea behind Cloud Connect is very sound, but the execution is lacking. It is a first generation product, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
Cloud Connect packs a good bit of hardware into a very small package. The system is built around an ARM Cortex-A9 system on a chip with Wireless-N and Bluetooth. Other features on the device include a Bluetooth connection button for pairing devices, a mini-USB port for power, a Micro-USB port for connecting a peripheral device such as a keyboard or mouse, and a microSD port for expanded storage. It can hook up to any display with an HDMI port and provide 1080P graphics with some 3D support.
Cloud Connect runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The interface of the device I used was the standard Android interface, and it wasn’t optimized for keyboard and mouse usage. It was difficult to navigate through the menus when hooked up to a 1080P TV, and I had trouble finding various menus because the icons were too small. While I love Android, the combination of an older version of the Android OS and an interface that was optimized for touch usage means that there is a lot of room for improvement in this category.
Cloud Connect comes with a few standard apps that are mainly there to allow users to connect to various virtual desktop environments. Those apps are:
- Pocket Cloud Standard Edition
- Citrix Receiver
- VMware Horizon View Client
The version of the View Client that was installed on the device was version 2.1. This client was a few releases behind, and I was not able to connect to the Horizon View 5.3 environment in my home lab. I was unable to update the client to the most recent as the Google Play store claimed that the app was not supported on my device.
Another disappointment of this device is that it does not come with the Professional Edition of Wyse PocketCloud. The standard edition has a reduced feature base – it is limited to one saved connection and can only connect via RDP or VNC. PocketCloud Professional can utilize the PCoIP protocol for connecting to remote desktops and allows multiple saved connections.
I’m going to turn to the wise sage and critic extraordinaire Jay Sherman to sum up my thoughts on the Wyse Cloud Connect:
Frankly, it just didn’t work. I wasn’t able to connect to virtual desktops in my environment. I couldn’t update the old versions of the software to fix those issues, and the interface was painful to navigate because it was the standard Android interface with no skinning or overlay to improve the experience for keyboard and mouse use.
That’s not to say that this device doesn’t have potential or some great use cases. I can see this being a good option for school computer labs, business travelers who do not want to carry a laptop, or even as a remote access terminal for teleworkers. It’s just that the negatives for this current version outweigh the potential that this device has.
Recommendations for Improvement
So how can Dell fix some of these shortcomings? The area that needs the biggest improvement is the user interface. The standard Android interface works great for touch devices, but it’s not user friendly when the input device is something besides a finger or stylus. Dell needs to build their own skin so they can optimize the experience for TVs, monitors, and projectors. That means bigger icons, adding keyboard shortcuts, and making the system menus more accessible.
Addressing the user interface issues would go a long way towards improving this product. It won’t fix all the issues, though, such as the View Client being listed as incompatible with this device in the Google Play Store.