Intel is making another attempt at the pocket-PC form factor with its newest generation Compute Stick. The first gen Compute Stick drew a lot of interest when it was released to market in 2015, the idea of having a computer that's the size of a USB stick that plugs directly into TV via HDMI, running a full fledged operating system in Windows 8 would entice many to purchase such a device.
Compute Stick had its positives, though small in stature it allowed users to perform basic operation such as web surfing, accessing emails and social media while connected to HDMI slot. Its negatives? Limited USB connectivity with slow clunky hardware.
This time around in 2016, Intel will provide potential buyers with not one but three model Compute Sticks. The first Compute Stick will be a entry level consumer option that will run quad-core Atom x5 z8400 processor clocking in at 1.4GHz to 2.24GHz, featuring 2GB of RAM, eMMc storage measuring in at 32GB. Like the last gen Compute Stick will have USB port, this time around there's count em two, a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. The extra USB port will enable users to add a keyboard or mouse. Networking connection will include a much faster wireless standard in the 802.11ac. The price point is set at $159.
The entry level Compute Stick might not intrigue the power users, but the next two options will, both models will have the new generation Skylake Intel Core-M processor. The higher-end of the the two options will have a Core m5-6Y57 v Pro while the lower end option will have a Core m3-6Y30
Both of these models will embed 4GB of DDR3-1866 RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage which you can expand using a microSD card slot, as with the entry level model, both will use 802.11ac WiFi connection. Potential buyers will have access to three USB 3.0 ports,more than enough to expand the Compute Stick functionality.
According to Intel, all three Compute Sticks will be able to decode HEVC/H.265 video, looking to process 4K video your best option is thw Core m3 and m5 models.
Here's a weird business model from Intel, without an OS, the Core m3 model will cost you $300,want Windows 10 would mean you'll have to sacrifice an extra $100 from your wallet. The Core m5 Compute Stick will cost you $500,that's with no Windows 10 pre-installed. Rather pricey for the device where at best you'll just be checking emails and web surfing.
The New gen Compute Sticks will be market available in February.