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Intel Compute Stick threatens USB flash drive dominance on key-chains worldwide

Remember the time when sporting a 32GB USB flash drive dangling alongside your car keys was still considered a conversation starter? Apparently, Intel is determined to knock the USB off key-chains everywhere, and replace it with something, way... way cooler.

Intel Compute Stick is nowhere near a MacBook, and you won’t play high-end 3D games, like Halo or Crisis on it. Photoshop will not run very smoothly on it either, however, this device is a Windows 10 PC in its own right, capable of performing well for lightweight tasks like web browsing, email, word processing, as well as streaming movies and listening to music.

Intel Compute Stick

This 4-incher is small enough to attach to a keychain, or be carried in pockets. Just like a regular, but bigger USB thumb drive, the Compute Stick has no protruding hardware, like ports or other connectors that might accidentally snag on clothing. When stored, a plastic cap covers and protects the device’s Mini-HDMI, and the overall smaller footprint of this device gives it minimal terminal velocity when dropped, making it less likely to break on impact on a hard surface.

The specs are impressive for a device of this size, featuring a 1.83GHz Intel Atom processor, 2GB DDR3L RAM, and 32GB of flash storage, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and integrated graphics, as well as one mini-USB port, which functions as power supply, and an additional USB port, which can be used to connect an input device, such as a wireless keyboard+mouse combo.

Your emergency backup desktop PC

The Compute Stick plugs into anything that has a display and an HDMI input port, effectively turning HDTVs into desktop PCs, right out of the box, making this gadget perfect for travel, or in situations when a desktop operating system is necessary or desirable.

For instance, when traveling for business, the Compute Stick is great to quickly access and display presentations, or documents on a large display, during last-minute meetings, as a last resort in situations when a laptop or other desktop system is out of reach.


The Compute Stick can be deployed within seconds, and it’s great for on-the-fly lightweight tasks, and as a miniature entertainment system on the go, however there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Out of the box, the device comes with a very basic set of accessories, like an additional power supply, which plugs into a wall outlet if the host display has no available USB ports, and a mini-HDMI to regular HDMI adapter. Unfortunately, the unit does not come with any input device, like a keyboard or a mouse. While a keyboard or other input device must be purchased separately, there are plenty of excellent choices that can be had for very cheap, such as wireless keyboard+trackpad combos that work via USB receiver or even Bluetooth.

Price point

The Compute Stick’s price point is well below the cheapest laptop of similar specs, retailing for less than $170, which makes it very attractive for those looking for a desktop PC with minimal, yet reasonable specs.


As previously mentioned, while this device can be used on a daily basis, the range of applications that can be run on the Compute Stick, is not as wide as those of a laptop, and nowhere near a regular PC, however it’s still a great choice, when nothing else is available. The 32GB flash storage is plenty to store documents and other files, or to sync with cloud storage services like DropBox or OneDrive or Google Drive, to easily edit work files. The integrated graphics won’t handle advanced 3D, but it perform brilliantly when it comes to HD movies and other types of media playback. The unit comes with a single power switch, and it boots up very quickly into Windows 10. This device, like all Windows 7 and 8.1 devices, is also eligible to be upgraded for free to Windows 10, should it not already ship with it.

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