At the Intel Solutions Summit 2015 (ISS 2015) which was held at the Yas Marina Formula One Circuit in Abu Dhabi, Intel gave IT News Africa an exclusive first look at its latest innovation – the Intel Compute Stick. After spending quite some time with the device, here is our review.
The Intel Compute Stick is essentially an entry level PC; however, instead of coming in the form of a traditional PC tower, or laptop-styled device, the Intel Compute Stick comes packaged in the form of a much larger USB stick-styled device.
Due to its size and shape the Intel Compute Stick can be plugged into just about any monitor or TV, which features an HDMI port, and essentially be used as a miniature PC. When taking a closer look the Intel Compute Stick’s technical specifications, we found that it the device features Wi-Fi connectivity, Bluetooth, as well as 32GB of internal storage – which can be expanded up to 128GB with a MicroSD card.
The device also features an Intel Quad-core 1.33GHz Atom Processor, 2GB of DDR 3 RAM as well as the option of one of two operating systems – Windows 8.1 or Linux Ubuntu. When looking at the performance of the device the Intel Compute Stick is just as powerful as a new tablet or small notebook PC. Additionally, the device will also have the processing power to run Windows 10 – once released.
After spending quite some time with the Intel Compute Stick, we had the opportunity to push it to its limits. As expected, the device allows the user to browse the web, access social media, stream YouTube videos as well as run productivity software in order to complete day-to-day office projects. The device can even be used to run Google’s image editing software, Google Picasa.
On the downside however, the device cannot be used to play highly detailed PC. Additionally, resource heavy multimedia programs like Photoshop, After Effects and so on will struggle. While the device cannot play games, it will however have the ability to stream games.
Another short fall of the device is the fact that it only comes with one usable USB slot, as the Micro USB slot is intended to power the device. The usable slot is essentially meant for a wireless mouse and keyboard controller. Granted you can opt to purchase a USB hub which can accommodate extra USB compatible devices; however, Intel could have equipped the Intel Compute Stick with an additional USB slot as there is ample room for it on the device.
While the device lacks the additional USB port it does offer up some great features and benefits, especially for a device that is meant to come in at affordable price. The device can be used as a media player for the tech savvy individual in order to stream full HD content, which is something that competitor devices tend to lack. To add to this, the device is small enough to fit into your pocket – which means that you won’t entirely have to carry your PC or laptop around if you are travelling (just remember to keep a wireless keyboard and mouse on hand).
While the device has great potential for home and office use, we have decided to look at the bigger picture. The Intel Compute Stick has great potential on the African continent. Rural-based schools can equip HDMI compatible devices with the Intel Compute Stick in order to allow teachers, and students, to access the internet. Furthermore, teachers can prepare educational material while students can access vital information for various school projects. To add to this, the Intel Compute Stick could allow African Innovators, start-ups and educational institutes to break through the limitations of the standard mobile interface, and start powering their business or school through a desktop styled device.
The Intel Compute Stick is a device that needs a little more work, but also opens up a great deal of opportunity to Rural-based schools, start-ups, and small businesses that lack the capital to invest in high tech equipment. When it comes to home use, the device can be used to connect to the internet via wireless internet, access social media, as well as stream various types of HD content.
While the Intel Compute Stick is definitely a step in the right direction, when it comes to the future of computing, the lack of an extra USB slot can really hinder a user at times. Overall, the Intel Compute Stick may have a few flaws; however, it is one device that shows great potential for connecting schools and start-ups to the internet.
The Intel Compute Stick is expected to release in November 2015, this may change, in South Africa; however, the price is yet to be confirmed.
Reviewed by Darryl Linington