ARM wants to replace cable boxes with HDMI sticks

Posted by Shane McGlaun

There are a variety of cheap HDMI PCs-on-a-stick on the market today. Most are loaded with Google's popular Android operating system, allowing users to easily run apps and stream media on big screen TVs in the living room. 

Not too long ago we talked about new quad-core packing HDMI sticks equipped with Rockchip's RK3188 processor that promises even better performance than we're used to in the segment.

Many of the PCs-on-a-stick are typically designed and manufactured by unknown companies. However, this could all be changing with some major industry backers pushing hard for these cheap little HDMI sticks to replace the traditional cable set top box. Frankly, I think most consumers would gladly replace their typically large and bulky cable boxes with a small HDMI stick capable of plugging directly into the back of a TV.

So it comes as little surprise that ARM is reportedly working on a software platform which would allow cable companies to deliver live and on-demand TV using a device about the size of a flash drive. ARM is also reportedly working directly with hardware maker FXI Technologies on an HDMI stick called the Cotton Candy PC on a stick. The device is officially classified as a hardware prototype at this point.

The prototype is powered by a Samsung Exynos 4210 dual-core processor and can run Android or the Linux operating system. The goal of prototype? Allowing TV service providers to deliver content using web apps as an electronic program guide. When it hits the market, the PC-on-a-stick would be able to stream video and other content directly to a TV. Of course, just because the software and hardware is available doesn't mean cable providers will necessarily rush to adopt the technology, so it could very well be several years before we see such devices experiencing widespread adoption.

Another important question to consider is storage and DVR support, as very few people who have adopted DVRs will be willing to give them up. If you need an external box to host your DVR platform you might as well stick with a traditional set-top box.