The Google Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick, and Amazon Fire TV Stick have made full set-top boxes less essential for media streaming, and now Intel wants to do the same for Windows computers.
Today’s CES announcement of the Intel Compute Stick hints at just that. It’s a pocket-sized device with a quad-core Atom processor, and it delivers a full Windows 8.1 computer experience that you can plug into any display with an HDMI input. And there’s a Linux version coming as well that’s 40% cheaper.
The Compute Stick has both regular-sized and micro USB ports, although the micro port is used to power the thing, and it has Bluetooth 4.0 support and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi for connectivity with peripherals and Internet access. The Computer Stick also has a microSD slot for expandable storage.
The Windows version will sell for just US$149 (about £99) and come with 2GB RAM and 32GB flash storage, a solid chunk of which will no doubt go towards the OS install. The Linux version comes in much cheaper at US$89 (£59), but only has 1GB RAM and 8GB of total internal storage.
Both are expected to launch in March, and it doesn’t sound like a one-off attempt: Intel reportedly hinted that more powerful versions with Cherry Trail and Core M chips are coming down the line. But for web browsing, media streaming, and basic apps, the current configuration should be plenty useful.