When we first saw the FXI Cotton Candy, a dual-core Android / Ubuntu computer on a USB stick, we were blown away by the unique device’s tiny size and enormous promise, but we were also left wondering when we could buy one. This week at Mobile Wold Congress, FXI took its diminutive device to the next level, as it started taking preorders for a Cotton Candy development kit, announced partnerships with the Polkast content-sharing service and Exent’s Gametanium gaming service, and showed off a new, more-polished industrial design for the computer’s casing.
This week, the company launched its developer portal, Cstick.com, which provides a community for the many developers and potential partners eager to program softwae or develop their own hardware accessories for the Cotton Candy. Using the forums, developers will be able to trade tips with each other and interact with FXI’s staff. The hope is that the community will develop new uses for the device that FXI CEO Borgar Ljosland and his team haven’t even dreamed of yet.
Whether you’re a serious developer or just an early adopter who wants to play with the Cotton Candy, Cstick.com will allow you to order the device and it has started taking preorders now for a limited March 2012 production run. A single Cotton Candy will cost 189 Euros or $199 in the U.S. As of this writing, the site only shows the European price, but Ljosland told us that the U.S. price should be $199.
When users first get the device, they will go online to register it and have a choice of downloading and installing either Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich or Ubuntu. Though there’s more interesting software right now for Android, Ubuntu’s more desktop-like experience may offer a better experience for developers hoping to use the Cotton Candy to write their code.
Prior to this week, FXI was showing off a preproduction design of the cotton candy that had a rather inexpensive-looking black and translucent plastic shell. For its first production run, the company has completely changed the casing to a hard, smooth white-metal material with rubber caps over the now-gold-colored USB and HDMI connectors on either end. When you remove the rubbe caps, they even stay attached as they are part of a rubber strip that lines the button of the device. Even the Bluetooth button and the microUSB port have a more polished look about them.
As before the device is extemely thin and light. In holding the new Cotton Candy, it felt even lighter than the original. Though Ljosland told us he hasn’t weighed the new chassis yet, it should be under 21 grams.
Users who opt to install Android on their Cotton Candies will have access to Polkcast, a service that allows you to wirelessly stream content like photos, videos, music, or documents that’s stored on their PC or Mac’s hard drive. In a brief demo, Ljosland showed us how photos he snapped on his iPod were immediately uploaded to his MacBook Pro’s hard drive, which then made them available to the Cotton Candy so it could display them on a large screen TV.
With the Cotton Candy in your pocket, you’ll be able to display content from your PC on any screen, whether it’s on the other side of the house or the other side of the globe.
Cotton Candy users will also be able to play titles from Exent’s GameTanium Android subscription gaming service on any screen they attach it to. According to FXI, gamers will be able to use their smartphones or tablets as controllers while the Cotton Candy displays content on a large screen monitor or TV. The company hasn’t demoed this technology yet, but we expect to see it in action sometime later this week.