Last year, Intel released an Atom-based Compute Stick, while Asus and Archos have launched similar devices sporting Atom processors running Windows 10. Now, Intel is outdoing those by offering their latest PC stick with an expanded list of specs and models running faster processors.
First, there’s a Compute Stick packing a 6th gen Core M Skylake processor. The Core m3 version ships with Windows 10, 64GB of eMMC storage, 4GB of memory, HDMI out, three USB 3.0 ports, dual band AC 7265 wireless and Bluetooth 4.2. Pricing is $399; there’s a Core m5 version that runs $499 but ships with no operating system.
The second model costs $159 and runs an Atom x5 quad-core processor, has 32GB of storage with 2GB of memory, an HDMI port with two USB 2.0 ports, and comes with Windows 10 installed. Dual band wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 are also included.
In addition to these Compute Sticks, newcomers Tronsmart and Kangaroo have carved out slightly different takes on the mini PC category. In addition to larger form factors, the Kangaroo InFocus includes an internal battery lasting up to 4 hours and has the ability to drive an iPad as a display.
The increasing number of mini PCs are starting to drive new portability and mobile scenarios to personal computing. Office workers, for example, can sometimes rely on apps and cloud-synced storage, eliminating the need to carry a laptop to the office. And there’s Microsoft promoting the idea even further by pushing computing down to the phone, with the Lumia 950 and 950XL taking advantage of Continuum on Windows 10 to extend universal apps to an external display and peripherals.