Do you have a spare HDMI port on your television or monitor? While you could plug in a Chromecast, Fire TV Stick or a Roku Streaming Stick to get your viewing fix, why not plug in a device that is a full Windows PC in the same form?
Intel is known for its chips, but it usually adds them to systems created by other distributors. Now, the Silicon Valley company is taking a different approach by developing a tiny computer, that will also sell directly. The company unveiled the Intel Compute Stick at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Compute Stick is a pocket-sized device that plugs directly into the HDMI port on a TV or computer monitor, and will give you a full PC experience right on your TV.
The unit includes an Intel Atom processor, Wi-Fi, 32 gigabytes of storage space, a USB port and a slot to add an SD card for even more storage. Intel plans to sell two versions of the device - one running Windows 8.1 that will cost $149 and a second that will run Linux and will only cost $89.
The company believes this device is the perfect solution for people who want or need a big screen for their computing needs, for such tasks like streaming content such as vidoes, movies and even digital signage. It can also be used as a light production machine, as it will easily run a variety of office applications, and consumers can even play a few simple video games on the device.
The device doesn't come with any way to control the computer, as Intel believes users will connect a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to the device or utilize the USB port for wireless USB options.
Rick Doherty, a market researcher with Envisioneering Group, says Intel frequently winds up doing 90% of the engineering for its customers by creating circuit boards and prototypes. This time, he said, the company decided not to rely on those companies to create the new product category.
"They are testing the waters," Doherty says. "It's one of the more interesting announcements at this CES."
More than likely the Compute Stick will find a comfortable home in small businesses, schools who want to roll out super cheap computers to their employees, since all you need is the stick, a monitor, a keyboard and mouse. Some consumers will most likely find this little dongle highly useful for their home entertainment centers as well as they use it to cheaply stream Netflix and other movies straight to their televisions.