Jun 02 2015

Review: The Intel Compute Stick Puts a PC in Your Pocket

Businesses looking for ultra-portable computing solutions now have stick PCs to add to their arsenal.

What has worked for kabobs and hotdogs for years now applies to computers. PCs on a stick are the latest development in an era of incredibly shrinking technology. Intel’s new device is about the size of a thumb drive and can transform any high-definition monitor into a fully functioning computer.

The Compute Stick is just 4 inches long and 1.5 inches wide. When you plug it into the HDMI port of a monitor, you get a computer powered by a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F processor, which powers many Android tablets.


The storage capacity that the Compute Stick’s micro SD slot can support


Cost-Conscious Option

Intel believes this plug-and-play device could be an attractive option for businesses looking to add computing power on a budget.

Just plug the devices into a room of monitors and “you’ve got a lab full of PCs that are consuming a lot less power and are less noisy than traditional PCs,” says John Deatherage, Intel’s director of marketing for channel innovation and solutions.

In addition to cost savings, the device could also bolster security, says Randy Siegel, senior principal at Center Circle Consultants, which specializes in mission-critical mobile applications.

“With Intel’s Compute Stick, IT can preconfigure the very same image for every enterprise end user,” Siegel says. “Because the Compute Stick does not utilize the operating system on the host or remote computer, rather it leverages the OS on the stick itself, threats involving the introduction of malicious software on the network are greatly minimized if not mitigated all together.”

A Little More, a Little Less

Intel has two versions of the device: The more robust stick runs Microsoft Windows 8.1; the less expensive one runs Linux Ubuntu. Both versions come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, along with a USB port for adding a mouse and keyboard.

The Compute Stick also can be used to power digital signage, Deatherage says, and its portability makes it a draw for mobile workers, who could take the device home and plug it into an HDTV to continue working on their files.

Windows 8.1 Compute Stick Specs

Windows 8.1 Compute Stick

  • $149
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB port Micro, SD slot

Linux Ubuntu Compute Stick

  • $89
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity
  • USB port, Micro SD slot

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