Linux micro-computer is nine shades of cool

FXI is preparing to launch the Cotton Candy, a tiny computer that is so small it looks like a USB thumb drive.

It runs either Ubuntu or Android 4.0, has a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, 1GB of RAM, and a Mali 400MP GPU stuffed under the bonnet. The configuration allows it to decode high-definition video which makes it useful as an entertainment machine.

It has a USB plug on one side, which is used to power the system, and an HDMI plug on the other which allows it to be plugged into a display. Other connections can be made using a built-in WiFi and Bluetooth system.

According to the company, it can be booted as a standalone and operate as a complete computer when plugged into a display. If you plug into a conventional computer it is possible to boot from as if it were a regular USB mass storage device.

The gadget is up for preorder and it is expected to ship in March. The standard retail price is $199 plus tax and shipping, which is a bit more expensive than entertainment hubs but it appears that it can do a lot more.