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Intel wants to help you turn any TV into a Windows PC, for the low cost of $149. All it takes is a little stick, much like the much-loved Google Chromecast Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway Google Chromecast Review and Giveaway We're giving away a Google Chromecast, so read through our review, then join the competition to win! Read More . Meet the all-new Intel Compute Stick.

The Compute Stick is essentially a complete PC, but in the compact form factor of a slightly large pen drive. It connects to a TV via HDMI, but also has to be powered with a microUSB cord. Here’s a quick look at the important specs:

  • 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F processor
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • 32GB internal storage
  • MicroSD slot (up to 128GB)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Full-size USB port
  • HDMI 1.4
  • Windows 8.1 Bing

It will also be available with Linux, but that version will come with 8GB of storage and 1GB RAM. That model will retail for $89, Intel said. Check out the full specs.

The Z3735F processor does not support 4K hardware decoding. Windows 8.1 Bing looks and behaves just like Windows 8.1—it’s a low-resource version preset to have Bing in all the search engines, but you can manually change that.

Why The Intel Compute Stick Matters

Intel-Compute-Stick-Windows-8-on-a-stick-low-cost-full-PC

While smart TVs are on the rise, you probably won’t use all of their features What Is a Smart TV & 6 of the Best On The Market Today What Is a Smart TV & 6 of the Best On The Market Today Most televisions you look at now will be smart TVs, but what is a smart TV and which ones are the best on the market right now? Read More . That’s because it’s not a full-fledged desktop operating system running there. You can’t run Microsoft Office on your smart TV, after all.

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Google’s Chromecast streams content from other connected devices. You can’t use the Chromecast without a second phone, tablet or computer. But the Compute Stick will just need a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse or some fantastic wireless all-in-one keyboards 6 Of The Best Wireless All-In-One Keyboards For Mac and PC 6 Of The Best Wireless All-In-One Keyboards For Mac and PC Wireless all-in-one keyboards turn a boring living room computer into an exciting home theater PC. We've rounded up five of the best models around. But which one is best for you? Read More to be up and running.

The current lot of Android Stick PCs are good for gaming and multimedia, What Is An Android Stick Computer, And How Can You Use It? What Is An Android Stick Computer, And How Can You Use It? Miniaturization has been a computing trend for decades, but it seems to have accelerated over the past five years. Even Intel’s NUC (Next Unit of Computing), a hockey-puck sized PC, looks large compared to ARM... Read More but Android itself can’t compare to Windows when it comes to getting work done in a desktop environment. Similarly, the Roku Streaming Stick (read our review Roku Streaming Stick Review and Giveaway Roku Streaming Stick Review and Giveaway All the features of a full Roku experience, in a small form factor that plugs straight into HDMI - does the Roku Streaming Stick deliver? Read on to find out and win one for yourself. Read More ) is great for watching movies and TV shows, but little else.

Plus, at $149, it’s still far cheaper than our recommended DIY HTPC build DIY Budget HTPC Media Center Build and Giveaway DIY Budget HTPC Media Center Build and Giveaway We built a sub-$400 yet energy-efficient HTPC media center running Ubuntu. Now, we're giving it away. Read More . And yes, you can turn it into a Roku-like streaming device for free Got A PC-on-a-Stick? You Can Turn It Into A Roku-like Media Streaming Device For Free! Got A PC-on-a-Stick? You Can Turn It Into A Roku-like Media Streaming Device For Free! Getting your stick computer streaming media requires very little effort and money nowadays. Considering that it provides an excellent replacement for a more expensive device, getting a stick PC can actually save you a fair... Read More .

More Than Just A Media Player

The Intel Compute Stick is for more than just multimedia though. Essentially, this is a complete PC you can carry around with you anywhere you go. In fact, it’s your PC on a stick—connectable to any device with an HDMI port.

CNET got some hands-on time with the Compute Stick and describes how it would be useful:

As someone who likes to travel but loathes toting a laptop around, keeping something like this with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse in my luggage would be a compact way to get a more robust computing experience than my iPad is going to offer, without tipping the scales or putting much of a dent in my wallet. I don’t expect to be able to edit photos or play World of Warcraft while I’m on the road, but this could prove to be a great tool for toting vital files and Windows apps around, and getting the full-PC experience wherever I can find a spare HDMI port.

Tom’s Guide echoes this opinion, stressing it will be fine for the usual multimedia requirements, but it can also do a bit more:

Atom Baytrail processors are not great for gaming or crunching video, but they can handle light productivity work, Web surfing, email and social networking very smoothly.

You Can Buy One Right Now! (But It’s Not Officially From Intel)

Intel has said it will be selling the Compute Stick directly, and that it will launch later this year. If you’re in the market for an HTPC, you might want to wait it out if you can.

Intel 1st Generation Compute Stick with Intel Atom Processor and Windows 8.1 (BOXSTCK1A32WFC) Intel 1st Generation Compute Stick with Intel Atom Processor and Windows 8.1 (BOXSTCK1A32WFC) New Generation compute one device that transforms any HDMI display into a fully functional computer Buy Now At Amazon $99.00

However, if you aren’t too worried about the Intel branding, you can grab one of these right now. As Liliputing points out, Chinese company MeegoPad is already selling the exact same model.

The MeegoPad T01/TB05 has the same hardware as the Compute Stick, complete with an Intel logo to prove its legitimacy. You can buy it for $115 on Amazon.

GizChina got its hands on the MeegoPad T01 and says it runs Windows 8.1 out of the box, and it looks like a pretty neat device, as you can see in the unboxing video. However, on Amazon, we weren’t able to ascertain if these devices shipped with Windows 8.1 preloaded on them or not—they all strategically say it “supports Windows and Android”, so we’d exercise caution.

If you’re willing to risk the $140, the MeegoPad T01 seems like a good way to get your hands on the Intel Compute Stick early, but be warned that you might have to load Windows yourself. Here’s how to install Windows 8 from a USB stick How To Install Windows 8 From A USB Stick How To Install Windows 8 From A USB Stick If you’re looking to install Windows 8 and your computer doesn't have a DVD drive, you’re not alone. Whether you have a Windows 8 DVD or a Windows 8 ISO file you've downloaded from Microsoft,... Read More .

Will you wait for Intel’s Compute Stick, buy the MeegoPad T01, or are you happy with something like the Roku Streaming stick?

Image credits: Ambrozjo (FreeImages), CianDesign (DeviantArt), Intel (WSJ), Intel, Microsoft

  1. George
    March 25, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    Will this device permit me to browse to a website, say PBS.org, NBC,com, or CBS.com and stream video? I have a Roku, but it does not support whatever is necessary to stream from a separate web site. I don't pay for cable TV and cannot receive over-the-air signal very well (I cannot install a rooftop antenna), and currently connect my laptop to the TV via HDMI. This is considerably more compact than a laptop, and if it works I would not have to connect the laptop.

  2. Zentek co
    August 31, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Intel Stick do Provides HQ sound?Because i doubt on it
    I m going to buy next week but can you guys tell me whether the sound quality is good or not through its output.
    I will also write review about it after purchasing on my own blog

    • Mihir Patkar
      August 31, 2015 at 9:55 am

      The sound isn't HQ, Zentek. In fact, if sound quality is important to you, I wouldn't recommend the Compute Stick. That said, if you do buy it, I look forward to reading your review, please post it here when you do :)

  3. accounts
    July 16, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I just bought one and was trying to use it on my Dell P2714H which has a DisplayPort instead of an HDMI port. I bought a converter cable and can't seem to get it to power on. Any idea why this might be the case?

  4. Stefan
    April 8, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Will it run Office or other "real" applications?
    Its only an Atom processor and I am afraid it will support only Windows apps but no desktop applications. Like Windows RT on the surface tablets.

    • TheReplyer
      May 24, 2015 at 12:43 am

      Yes, it runs full windows 8.
      Some Surface tablets run windows rt, but MOST run windows 8

    • TheReplyer
      May 24, 2015 at 12:50 am

      Actually, Microsoft has abandoned windows rt

  5. Kev Ellison
    February 22, 2015 at 8:45 am

    I'm looking foward to this! It could change the way my company's employees work. Non of the office team require that much grunt... they do basic tasks so I could clear down out my office with these! There are other (less well known) brands releasing to very similar specs based around the Z3735F CPU (such as http://www.stickpcstore.com/stick-pcs/hannspree-windows-8-stick-pc-quad-core-1-83-ghz-2gb-ram-32gb-windows-8-1-micro-pc-snnpdi1b.html) however I would really like to go with an Intel vesion! I purchased a Hannspree Micro PC to trial and it works great... handles basic MS Word, Excel and Outlook tasks. As a trial I had all three of those running with Chome and Spotiy for a few hours with no problems! I would just prefer an Intel (branded) version before I buy a good number of these!

  6. Rick
    February 6, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    What's the process in "switching over" to this from your TV? I have an early Samsung smart TV and it's horribly slow to switch between TV and it's OS. If it's longer than 3 seconds than it's not worth it and I would just get up and go to my PC/Laptop to do whatever I need to do. If it can be running along side and allows to instantly switch back and forth to Windows OS/TV (possibly while still playing the TV in a small picture in picture) then it's well worth it I think. If I could get updates from various things (email, fb) showing up as little bubbles or something on the sides while watching TV even better. Does it do any of this stuff? In other words does it sort of "sit on top" of my TV and allow overlays on the side for various alerts coming from Windows? More importantly is the switching speed for me.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 12, 2015 at 6:08 am

      It'll just be switching from that HDMI port to any other port (like HDMI 2, VGA, Component, etc)

  7. Dustin
    January 28, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Looking at Legacy support can we use a VGA/DVI adpater to HDMI and still have it work?

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 2, 2015 at 11:15 am

      I doubt it. The audio definitely won't work, I'm unsure about the video.

  8. General Raccoon
    January 27, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Also can I stream my xbox on twitch with it?

  9. General Raccoon
    January 27, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Gaming like steam?

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 28, 2015 at 4:27 am

      Well, depends on which games from Steam you want to run. If you are asking whether it can be a Steam PC, then no :D

    • General Raccoon
      January 30, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      I mean like games like dayz standalone, minecraft, unturned etc.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 2, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Technically, those would run, but I doubt you'll get a smooth gaming experience unless you're turning the graphics to as low as they can go.

  10. Jack Simth
    January 24, 2015 at 4:10 am

    I've been looking at this (and things like it) for work-related reasons. So far, it looks great for digital signs... and little else (maybe a cheap PC for a cafe or something?). For a digital sign, you set something to run on bootup when you've got a keyboard & mouse attached, connect it to the local wireless, then disconnect the keyboard and mouse, plug it into the TV, power it up, and you're set. Whenever you want to change the program, re-attach the keyboard and mouse (or log into it from a thousand miles away using any number of remote desktop applications if you thought ahead) and change things around.

    For your house media server? A cheap PC in a closet somewhere will do the job better - more space, more processing power, less money.

    For pretty much anything else? Do what I've done: Get a screen sharing stick (Chromcast/Amazon Fire TV Stick/Roku Streaming Stick - possibly a few others) and a Galaxy S3 or better smartphone (Yes folks, a phone from two generations ago - oh, and if you want Windows? Windows phones are on the market - I'm currently using an S4). You'll have very similar specs for less cost, and if you're in a position where you'll regularly need to do electronic things quickly, you're going to have a smartphone anyway. Oh yes, and you don't strictly need to find a keyboard, mouse, screen, power, or Wifi Router (although they're useful), as the phone has a keyboard app, touch screen, built-in display, battery, and cellular modem (respectively) while still having a USB connection to get to a real keyboard and mouse (not a full sized port, granted, but that's easy to solve... or just go bluetooth instead on your keyboard and mouse), a wireless connection to get on the local wifi, a power cord when you've got wall voltage available, et cetera. When you want to share, you plug the mirror device into the TV you want to use. Quite frankly, I expect that anyone who would want to use a computing stick as a portable computer will already have a reasonable smartphone that they're constantly tracking anyway. Which is better: One device costing about $35 dollars above and beyond what you already have anyway, or a completely separate platform that costs you somewhere between $100 and $150 that requires more hardware to use effectively and has fewer situations where you can make use of it?

    Don't get me wrong: I'm sure computing sticks will have a great niche for digital signs. As far as I can tell, all other niches are already quite full with better products.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 24, 2015 at 10:34 am

      I disagree with you there, mostly because your use-case scenario for the regular home seems to target a person who is relatively tech-savvy. I've seen people struggle with Chromecast. I also find several people who just want Windows on their TV, to use as a PC when it's needed. In fact, I think the potential of the Windows Compute Stick is incredible for someone who wants to run a different OS as their primary system, but doesn't want an entire Windows rig alongside for whenever they need Windows. There are lots of use-case scenarios for this stick, imo.

  11. KPG
    January 24, 2015 at 2:00 am

    any word is you can use a remote desktop connection?

  12. Mr Chencho
    January 16, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Hello, question to early adopters,
    Can you run Plex media Server from It?

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 3, 2015 at 4:06 am

      Plex should run fine on this.

  13. DonGateley
    January 13, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Please add comment and reply notification to your site. I've got a question but there is no probability I can see an answer unless I camp on this page and I have more important things to do.

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 2, 2015 at 11:16 am

      I think Reply notifications are working now, Don. So ask away!

    • DonGateley
      February 2, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      @Mihr: Thanks but I forgot the question. :-)

    • DonGateley
      February 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      Oh, your reply got to my email inbox so it must be working. Thanks. Next up, email subscription for anything added to the thread. :-)

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 3, 2015 at 4:07 am

      Haha no problem, if you remember it, throw it in here and I'll respond.

  14. Anonymous
    January 13, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Office would be nice. Then I would get it even if it was 200$

    • Mihir Patkar
      February 2, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Well, Office would run on this for sure.

  15. Jeffrey
    January 13, 2015 at 6:02 am

    I got mine from maketheone.com for $95 shipped with Win 8.1. It can handle most of my day to day applications very well including gaming and HD video playback. Now I am trying to replace the OS with SteamOS then I can dump my HTPC.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 13, 2015 at 7:28 am

      You're right, much cheaper there! But is it really good enough for gaming with SteamOS? I have my doubts. What games have you played so far, and on what graphics settings?

    • Enrique Valadez
      January 14, 2015 at 7:33 am

      720P seems to be ideal if you want stable frame rate.

  16. Michaeldas
    January 13, 2015 at 1:36 am

    been out for a while, also this comes with 32gb rom, 2gb ram and intel bay trail t quad core cpu, is available in tabletland.com with free shipping, if you enter coupon code H3AV4, you can get free male to female hdmi cable

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 13, 2015 at 7:33 am

      Hmmm, so you'd wait till $75?

  17. notme
    January 12, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    when it drops to <50$ I might look at it.

  18. DonGateley
    January 12, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Attractive at half the price.

  19. Xoandre
    January 12, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    $150 to look at an unusable Windows 8 interface on my television? Why would I ever want that?

    No thanks.

    • likefunbutnot
      January 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Actually, the Start screen is really nice as a 10' interface on a projector or TV. As someone who has been using a home theater PC for 15 years, I have to say that it's a huge help and probably superior to any other general purpose UI available for that purpose.
      Dropping in to Kodi or Plex is the same experience on any platform, but if you're sitting on the couch and just trying to click the right tiny icon, the Start screen really is the best option available.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 13, 2015 at 7:33 am

      Why unusable? The Modern UI bits won't make sense, but you can live happily in the desktop environment itself.

  20. HelenAnn
    January 12, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I think I would wait for Intel . I really like this idea and might even buy a second tv.

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 13, 2015 at 7:32 am

      A second TV? Why is that? :) (Not arguing, just curious)

  21. ed
    January 11, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    If the Intel Compute Stick can handle Win 8.1 and Kodi/XBMC with 1080p video, I'm all in :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 13, 2015 at 7:32 am

      I haven't got my hands on it yet, but the MeegoPad reviews says so. I don't think Kodi+1080p should be a problem with that processor.

  22. HTPC
    January 11, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Any TV with HDMI-port.

    • TheReplyer
      May 24, 2015 at 12:50 am

      Any TV with a HDMI port

  23. ReadandShare
    January 11, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    Any TV? Like my Panasonic DT-32d32? I don't think that's possible. :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      January 13, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Any TV with an HDMI port :)

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