Adding some smarts to your dumb TV is not that hard if you have a tiny PC plugged into its HDMI port. And by tiny, we mean Intel’s pocket-sized Compute Stick.
Unlike media streamers such as Google’s Chromecast, the Intel Compute Stick is a full-fledged PC. Think of it as your desktop, only shrunk down to a mere stick size and doesn’t look conspicuous when it’s docked with your TV. It’s powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor and has Windows 8.1 running in the background. This gives you the full suite of Microsoft services such as Bing and even Microsoft Office.
The only downside - native storage space is limited to 32GB of internal storage. On the bright side, there’s a full-sized USB 2.0 port and microSD card slot, so if you have a spare HDD or microSD card lying around, plug those in to expand the storage capacity.
That aside, the Compute Stick comes with 2GB of RAM, which is sufficient for basic usage such as movie playback, internet surfing and photo editing. Its wireless options include Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0, with the latter being particularly useful to link up your wireless keyboard and mouse to the system.
For all that’s mentioned, you would think that the Intel Compute Stick would cost upwards of a few hundred dollars. Almost, because the low-cost system is priced at S$229. And here’s the bit of good news that we saved for last - it’ll cost you nothing during the Consumer Electronics Exhibition from 29 to 31 May.
The caveat? You'll need to sign up for a 1Gbps fibre broadband plan, select broadband or HomeHub subscription plans from StarHub to get a free Intel Compute Stick. But if you’re unable to re-contract a fibre broadband plan, fret not. Because the Intel Compute Stick will still be available from StarHub Shops, authorised dealers and during StarHub roadshows.