How about bringing your work home in your pocket instead of lugging a laptop home? Intel takes a leaf from the China gizmo manufacturers with their latest Intel Compute Stick, their take on the mini TV stick. The Intel Compute Stick sports a familiar looking design, with the HDMI port, and micro USB connection for power. It can run either Linux or Windows, and will be powered by a capable Intel Atom quad core Baytrail Z3735F processor, with up to 2GB of RAM, and up to 32GB of eMMC storage. WiFi is built in and memory can be further expanded via micro SD.
Back in 2012, I was impressed by the MK808, and thought that it could be fun to use as a PC stick equivalent. “The MK808 also offers other computing advantages such as internet browsing, word processing, etc, and its very scalable. The previous version MK802 was able to fully run Linux (Ubuntu, Puppy Linux). I thought it might be interesting to SMEs with technology cost constraints. This could easily replace a laptop (SG$1000). I owned one of those TV sticks and in truth, it was a little under utilised. Despite the convenient form factor, you still need to find a USB hub for your other essential computing devices like a mouse and keyboard, and the Android OS just wasn’t mature enough at that point in time for full computing. Well, the Intel Compute stick might have arrived at the right time. With Microsoft offering Windows 8.1 at a song for tablet-esque devices, this have made the Windows version of the Intel Compute stick affordable at $149. You should definitely opt for the Windows version as the additional 1GB and 24gb of storage is definitely worth paying the $50 more.
The Intel Compute stick could be used as a cheap way to set up a home computer for newbies to computers. All you would need in addition to the stick would be a keyboard / mouse combo and a HDMI capable monitor. The built in processor and RAM is more than capable for internet browsing, youtube and office document processing. Intel identifies the key customer segments to be consumers with light computing needs, thin clients for business, and for embedded devices. Instead of bringing your laptop home, all you need is just to slip the compute stick into your pocket and once home, hook it up to a HDMI-equipped monitor for you to continue with your work. No fuss over battery, or having to lug a laptop to and fro office.
There are still some issues though. It only has one visible USB port, so you probably need to expand it with a USB HUB. With more devices, powering it up would be a challenge. The Android PCs typically require at least a 5V 2A supply, and built in USB ports on TV and monitors may barely cut it. Especially when you load up more devices to it.
While not the cheapest way of carrying a full Windows 8.1 PC in your pocket, that would actually be my HP Stream 7 at US$99 with similar processing specifications except for the RAM, but I personally think this might be more useful due to the smaller form factor and better display connectivity. It’s actually similar to one of those thin clients, or Chromebox-like devices. For interested buyers, it would be launching in March. Be prepared for a slew of clones from China as well.