Intel Compute Stick – PC Windows-based the size of a pack of chewing gum
The compute stick. Although it sounds quite funny, that is the idea (and the literal translation of the name) Compute Stick, one of the most insane products ever created by Intel.
Of course, many skeptics say that the concept of DCS with microscopic dimensions is not unique. And they are right – recently appeared on the market quite a lot of minisystem of this class, whose creators claim that their product offers a full-fledged computer in a super compact form-factor. However, Intel behaves in a similar way, positioning the Compute Stick as a fully functional computer with a Quad core processor, 2 GB RAM and pre-installed Windows 8.1 with Bing.
Specifications Of Compute Stick
It should be recognized that the idea is fully based on the Windows computer that you can carry in your pocket, sounds pretty good (at least on paper). Yes, modern mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones with each generation becoming more powerful and can easily perform many PC functions, but in spite of that Compute Stick has several obvious advantages, which could be useful to you.
As already mentioned, the concept of the computer with such compact dimensions is not new: here you can recall them with Google Chromecast, Apple Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV. However, in contrast, Compute Stick offers a much more flexible and varied use cases that go far beyond the ideas of streaming media.
At its heart lies the system on chip (SoC) based on Quad core processor Intel Atom Z3735F with a clock frequency of 1.3 GHz. Also Compute Stick is counting on built-in CPU GPU Intel HD Graphics has at its disposal a 1 or 2 GB of RAM and 8 or 32 GB built-in storage space of information. Still have HDMI video output, USB port and MicroSD card slot for flash memory cards, like wireless connectivity options – Bluetooth 4.0 and wifi 802.11 bgn.
Modifications which Intel offers this device, only two: one of them (more expensive) comes with pre-installed Windows 8.1 with Bing. The other (cheaper) with Linux Ubuntu.
It is noteworthy that each of these two modifications allows to use other (alternative) operating system. But if you want to work with Linux, and bought version of Windows, then first you need to install Ubuntu from external media (USB stick or microSD card) with the installation files.
Option Windows is undoubtedly more interesting, as it provides a full-featured micro PC, which will be ready in a few minutes after connecting to the HDMI port of any TV or monitor.
Install The Compute Stick
The initial setup process Compute Stick is not much different from that with which you’re likely to come across, if you bought a new computer preloaded with Windows 8/8.1.
As soon as you turn the device on for the first time, Windows will take matters into their own hands and guide you through the whole process of installation, wireless network setup, Microsoft account etc. as I tested this variant Compute Stick, I can only guess about how this process looks in the modification with Ubuntu, but I think that it is not much different, because this Linux distribution offers a user-friendly initial setup process.
After the preliminary configuration, the Compute Stick is ready to use. Although it is conceived as a device that best turkopticon and accessible even for those not savvy with the point of view of technical people, the implementation is slightly lame. The main reason for this is that for comfortable work with the operating system requires the simultaneous use of keyboard and mouse. And since the Compute Stick has only one USB port, it can create some difficulties. One possible solution to this problem is to use a USB hub, which will provide the opportunity to connect not only keyboard and mouse, and other peripheral devices.
If you do not have such an accessory and you are ready to buy it specifically for Compute Stick, then you can bet on the combination of wireless keyboard and mouse with a joint receiver. Many popular companies offer peripheral devices that have a similar model of Logitech, for example.
Also you can only work with the mouse, but if you want to use the virtual keyboard of Windows. By the way, in case you need it and during the initial setup of the operating system, because during this process, you will need a keyboard.
The good news is that the problem powered Compute Stick should not bother you. In case, if the monitor or TV does not have its own USB port, which is required to power the device in the package has it’s own power adapter with a variety of nozzles designed for the most common types of contacts in the world – A, B, C and G.
Compute Stick in practice
«How to use the Compute Stick?» — this is probably one of the main issues associated with this device. Although I have repeatedly called it a compact and fully functional computer, you should understand that you should not expect miracles from such a system based on SoC.
Of course, one of the most obvious applications connected with the use of it as an ultra-small mediaraptor mentioned Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. So you can connect this microcomputer to the TV in the living room and use it as a wireless receiver of a media stream, decoded and transmitted from a fixed PC in an adjacent room.
This role Compute Stick cope without problems, but the same offer, and the above-mentioned competitors, in this case, admittedly, at a lower price.
That’s why I don’t think streaming media is a leading advantage of the Compute Stick – Yes, when the user wants he can do it, but the high price negates the meaning of such acquisition, if you intend to use it only as mediaraptor.
Much more interesting possibilities Compute Stick offers the fans of computer games. Widespread digital distribution services (like Steam) have a long history offer the option of streaming the images from the game in real time from one computer to another computer in your home wireless network.
Thus, you can download the powerful desktop PC with the hard work necessary to play the game, and the result will see on the screen a second, much weaker machine operating as a simple terminal.
This «trick» can be applied if, say, you have a computer with gaming performance, and you want to use a laptop or tablet settings with modest office computer, or just want to display the image of the game on the big TV screen. A function to stream real-time Steam allows you to do this quickly and easily, in just a few clicks of the mouse. The only requirement is that both devices were connected to the same wireless network.
The same applies to the Compute Stick. To use it as a game streamer, you only need to install the Steam client and sign in to the service with your user name and password.
Then use In-Home Streaming, you can connect the Compute Stick to your home computer and use its resources for heavy computations associated with playing games such as The Witcher 3, Grand Theft Auto V or Far Cry 4, far beyond the reach of tiny Compute Stick. In this configuration, the Compute Stick will only work as a media receiver that transmits data to a TV or monitor to which it is connected.
This, of course, only the idea of the theory, but I checked how the Compute Stick copes with this task in practice. The test results showed that in order to enjoy the highest quality gaming experience requires a fast wireless network, which is not surprising. Intel themselves recommend you use the latest version of 802.11 networks Wi-Fi n and ac operating in the 5GHz frequency range.
If the connection is not enough bandwidth, the service dynamically adjusts the stream quality, that is, lowers it, and the result is not particularly pleasant.
The role of the classic PC tiny size Compute Stick works surprisingly well. This makes it a very suitable alternative to all the thin and light, but still large enough mobile devices such as tablets and laptops. If every gram and inch of your Luggage is very valuable in the journey or business trip you can take only Compute Stick and a wireless keyboard/mouse. When you arrive, simply connect the device to the TV in his hotel room and a few minutes you will have a functional Windows PC, which allows you to surf the Internet, work with office documents or watch movies.
Such scenarios would be more attractive if the price of Compute Stick was a little lower. I wouldn’t call this expensive device, but for $ 150 you can buy a good tablet and even a budget laptop – all devices that Compute Stick in practice is an exotic alternative.
However, the fact that Intel managed to cram more or less classical computer device about the size of two packs of chewing gum, is an undeniable technical achievement – even in an era that by all accounts belongs to mobile technology.
+ Configuration Wintel PC in a compact form factor.
+ More flexibility for use against the competitors.
+ Optionally you can also install Linux Ubuntu.
— Only one USB port.
— The price.
The model is suitable for users who are inclined to experiment, as people who need a computer device with compact size, which is not a laptop or tablet.