One fine day, we (the Readme crew) were invited to a Empress suite at Cinnamon Lake, a room crowded with photographers. A couple of large PCs side by side next to some new generation laptops. Indika De Zoysa of Intel Sri Lanka was in the middle of the room with a dongle-sized object in hand.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a computer. Yes, that little white thing in his hands.
Now the Intel Compute Stick, as it’s called, is something we’ve been keeping our eyes on for some time. Remember Intel’s NUC? This thing is the NUC miniaturization taken to extremes: a fully functioning processor, RAM and accompanying ports shrunk to the size of a large 3G dongle. You plug it in to an HDMI port on a TV or a monitor and viola, PC, like a beefed-up Raspberry Pi.
Indika used a lot of eye-catching ways to demonstrate this, including stacking it next to a NUC and a desktop i3 PC. While the unit we saw was a demo unit, the consumer version of the Stick is expected to pack a quad-core processor, something approximately equal in processing power to a modern-day Pentium processor or the modern Celerons that you find in Chromebooks, 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth, WiFi. Intel is apparently shipping one variant of the Stick with Linux, priced for $89, and Windows 8.1 version $149. Given that Windows 10 is expected to be free. We got to have a brief go at the device: honestly, it’s literally like carrying a cheap plug-and-play PC around.
In Sri Lankan terms, the Stick is expected to sell for around Rs 18,000. Now that is dirt cheap. Intel sees this as a flexible low-cost device which might make a good secondary PC when hooked up to a TV, like a budget web browser / media streaming device. They can’t confirm the pricing, unfortunately, as that depends on the distributors and on Unity Plaza margins – one can only hope that this catches on, like a NUC. I wouldn’t mind buying one and seeing if we can get Steam running on it. Dota 2 on a stick, anyone?