Windows 8.1 with Bing, an operating system that Microsoft provides for free to OEMs under strict guidelines, has enabled a new wave of low-cost desktops, laptops, and tablets to flood the market. Intel is the latest to embrace Windows 8.1 with Bing, and will preinstall the operating system on a tiny PC that looks not much bigger than the Roku Streaming Stick or Amazon Fire TV Stick that you may have dangling from your TV’s HDMI port.
The Intel Compute Stick manages to pack some relatively decent specs into a tiny package that fits in the palm of your hand. It is powered by a quad-core Atom Z3735F processor with 2GB of RAM and comes configured with 32GB of storage, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n, a USB port, and an HDMI 1.4a connector. The Compute Stick itself is powered by a single micro-USB connection.
Best of all, the Compute Stick will only set you back $149.99 when it launches in March. If you’re one of the millions of consumers out there that has an absolute disdain for Windows 8.1, Intel will also make a version available that will run Ubuntu Linux for a low $89.99. However, be warned that the bargain basement pricing means that RAM will also be halved to 1GB while the internal storage is slashed from 32GB to 8GB.
The possibilities for this type of device are endless, but my first thought is of using it to turn my “dumb” HDTV into a kickass, fully functional Windows PC.