Intel's $150 Compute Stick is a tiny Windows 8.1 PC — and a slowpoke
Intel's Compute Stick, an entire PC crammed into an HDMI stick that fits in the palm of your hand, is nothing short of a landmark in computing.
Fifty years of Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors that can be crammed onto an integrated circuit doubles every two years, has resulted in a little plastic stick that plugs into any HDMI-equipped TV or computer display, transforming it into a full-fledged Windows 8.1 PC.
SEE ALSO: Intel's Compute Stick is a $150 PC in the size of a Chromecast
Just don't get any crazy ideas about gaming on it — or, indeed, doing any intensive amount of multitasking — and the Compute Stick isn't half bad.
I tested out the $150 Windows 8.1 version with a 1.3GHz Intel Atom quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. There's a microSD card slot on one side for additional storage expansion, and a full-sized USB 2.0 port and Micro USB port on the other for power.
The Ubuntu 14.04 LTS OS model is physically identical — a black stick with a tiny fan and vents on the top and sides — but with less RAM (1GB) and internal storage (8GB). It's cheaper, too, at about $110.
The Compute Stick's selling point is simplicity. Want to browse the Internet on your 65-inch 4K TV in your living room? Go ahead. Staying at a hotel and want to turn the TV into a PC? Sure thing.
Setting up was a little more annoying than I would have liked.I plugged the Compute Stick's HDMI input into the Asus monitor I have at work, but its thick body prevented it from fitting. Instead, I had to use the HDMI extension dongle included in the box. (The situation was the same at home on my 46-inch HDTV.)
My frustrations continued. To power the Compute Stick, it needs to be plugged into a USB port that can supply power, or into an outlet.