You have been able to buy ARM based single board computers (SBCs) built into niffy sticks that plug directly into the HDMI port of your TV for around two years now. I have played with a few and I reviewed the FAVI SmartStick back in 2013. Then there are the specialist home entertainment sticks like the Chromecast and the Amazon Fire TV stick. Both of which use ARM processors. It seems that Intel has been playing catch-up for quite a long time now, but finally the giant chip maker has turned its attention to the PC-on-a-stick market.
Intel has just announced its $89 Compute Stick at CES 2015. Like its ARM counterparts the stick is small enough that it can be plugged directly into a TV’s HDMI port to give you a desktop or mobile operating system directly on your TV. The ARM sticks support Android and Linux, while Intel’s stick supports Windows 8.1 and Linux. The $89 stick will get you Linux and a quad-core Atom processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. There is also a micro SD slot, a USB port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. If you want Windows then you will need to pay $149 for the 2GB model with 32GB of storage.
Intel’s web page for the Compute Stick doesn’t mention Android, however if the stick can run Windows and Linux I doubt it will take long for someone to get Android up and running on it.
Intel is aiming the Compute Stick at three distinct segments: home entertainment, business and embedded solutions.
Intel is aiming the Compute Stick at three distinct segments: home entertainment, business and embedded solutions. For home entertainment it say you can use the Compute Stick for social networking, web browsing, and streaming media, such as Netflix. For business, Intel says its new stick will be good as a thin client, while for embedded solutions Intel talks about things like digital kiosks.
The Intel Compute Stick “launches later this year” with many pundits predicting an early spring release. Similar Intel based PC-on-a-stick dongles are already available from various Chinese wholesalers, and I am sure we will see more of these Intel based PC-on-a-sticks from different third party OEMs.
What do you think? Does the prospect of Windows 8.1 on your TV sound appealing or would you rather use something like a Chromecast, or an ARM based Android stick? Please let me know in the comments below.