In 2015 Intel introduced the Computer Stick and for some reason called it the “compute stick” – the product has been available ever since. The idea is simple and elegant and they wanted to create an HDMI dongle computer which can run Windows 10.
Our suspicion is that Intel wanted a ultra-cheap and portable solution to run Windows for embedded applications like set-top boxes (DVRs) and other IoT (Internet of Things) products. They wanted the device to run directly from a TV so portable displays could be used in a variety of situations. We would even guess, this “compute stick” was a maturity of some hack Microsoft did for a trade show where by they needed a portable way to run presentations. If our assumption is correct, it’s a wonderful product and is a great solution for its intended purpose.
PCWorld did a technical review of the compute stick back in 2016, and the link can be found at the bottom of this article. The PC World review outlined the specifications and performance levels of the Intel based product, and they are not bad at all given the small size of the stick. We will let that article do the heavy lifting for the tech people out there, but today we want to talk about the applications one might have for a computer stick.
For only $120 (ish) off Amazon, this is an excellent solution to run Windows 10 for a host of specific applications.
Some key bullet points to get an idea of the hardware we are dealing with:
- Intel Atom processor @ 1.4GHz – not bad for many types of applications.
- 2GB or 4GB of DDR3 RAM, depending on the model you get, again not bad
- microSD socket for additional storage, comes with a 32GB card, again not bad
- Easily expand the storage capacity to 256GBs for $45
- Wireless support: 802.11a/b/g/n
- One USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0 port
- HDMI extension cable
- Power by a microUSB connection
Attention all Mac users…
If you are a Mac user (and most likely then a Mac lover) this Windows computer stick solution is perfectly suited for you! For a little over $100 all your problems are solved. You get a full blown Windows 10 system, installed and ready to use, with only the need of a monitor with an HTML port and a keyboard and mouse. There couldn’t be a more economical and easy to install solution.
Printers come to mind. Maybe you purchased a 3D printer or flatbed printer but the design software only works in Windows and you own a Mac. Or you want a dedicated computer to run your 3D printer as it builds the product, the computer stick is a great solution. The ZMorph is an excellent 3D printer. If you are a Mac guy, you can use the Intel computer stick for design software. The Logo-EZ USB flash drive printer is a flatbed device that requires a Windows PC to run the labeling print software. Again, for a Mac user who doesn’t want to invest in a laptop or PC, the computer stick is the alternative; or a business which needs a compact and inexpensive Windows OS to run the printer.
Restaurants come to mind. Maybe putting some digital signage at the front window is something needed to gain foot traffic. By mounting a TV and connecting the computer stick, you instantly have a wireless solution to run a digital marketing campaign from Power Point. Sure there are alternatives, but if you are a restaurant owner, you don’t have the time to figure out customized digital sign solutions. Simply connecting the computer stick via HDMI and running your Power Point on endless loop wouldn’t take much time at all.
School computer for the kids. As social distancing becomes a trend, getting an education remotely is more likely to happen. The computer stick by Intel is an excellent solution for a family on a budget. The device is also portable and easy for a child to store in ther backpack or move from room to room depending on availability of monitors or TVs.
The applications for a computer stick could be endless, but the point has been made about its benefits and uses. The clear winner here is the Mac user looking for a way to run a Windows program or equipment without having to invest hundreds of dollars.
Below are a collection of shots running Windows 10 on a 32″ TV along with running a video as full screen.
Resource: In depth technical review from PCWord here.