Intel quietly announced at CES 2015 a new computing device called the Intel Compute Stick. Quite a bit north of, say, an Amazon Fire Stick, this is meant to be a computing device, not merely a media controller, although it can certainly serve that role. It’s outfitted a bit more like what you’d expect from a smartphone. And for $149, with Windows 8.1 (the version with Bing, which is intended for low-cost hardware devices), it’s a compelling thought.
The Intel Compute Stick is powered by a Bay Trail processor (the Z3735F, essentially a quad-core Atom processor intended for tablets). It comes with 32 GB of eMMC storage and 2 GB of RAM. It’s got a USB port, HDMI of course (1.4a, using a standard connector), and a microUSB port that provides power, as well as a microSD slot. An Intel spokesperson said that it would eventually be able to draw power over HDMI. Its wireless capabilities include rather pedestrian wireless, at 802.11b/g/n, and also Bluetooth 4.0 support.
There is a lower cost Compute Stick running Linux Ubuntu, with 8GB of storage and 1GB of memory for $89.
The company sees the Compute Stick as a lower-entry computing device that can also be a powerful media player and consumption tool for consumers. For corporations, it can serve as a thin client device.
While the first version is using Bay Trail, we’ll soon also see it run on Cherry Trail, and, it was hinted, even Core M. The first Compute Sticks ship in March.