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Intel Portables Ubuntu Windows Hardware Technology

Intel 'Compute Stick' PC-Over-HDMI Dongle Launched, Tested 174

MojoKid writes: Intel has officially announced the availability of their Compute Stick HDMI dongle, and has lifted the embargo on early tests with the device. The Compute Stick is essentially a fully-functional, low-power, Atom-based system with memory, storage, and an OS, crammed into a dongle about 10cm long. There will initially be two compute sticks made available: one running Windows (model STCK1A32WFC) and another running Ubuntu (model STCK1A8LFC). The Windows 8.1 version of the Compute Stick is packing an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, with a single-channel of 2GB of DDR3L-1333 RAM and 32GB of internal storage, though out of the box only 19.2GB is usable. The Ubuntu version of the Compute Stick has as a similar CPU, but is packing only 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. All sticks have USB and MicroSD expansion capability. It doesn't burn through any benchmarks, but for multi-media playback, basic computing tasks, web browsing, HD video, or remote access, the Compute Stick has enough muscle to get the job done, and it's cheap, too: $99 — $149.
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Intel 'Compute Stick' PC-Over-HDMI Dongle Launched, Tested

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  • Cripple Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realilskater ( 76030 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @12:14PM (#49529291)

    Why in FSM's name are the Ubuntu version hardware specs lower?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe some big software firm was involved, threatening to not let them use Windows unless Linux-sticks were crippled??

    • Re:Cripple Linux? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @12:26PM (#49529435) Journal

      Why in FSM's name are the Ubuntu version hardware specs lower?

      I think because they want to sell a cheap, low spec one and MS doesn't like people shipping Windows on underspeced hardware.

      Anyway, my old eee has 1G RAM and to be honest it's beginning to get rather spartan even for web browsing.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "MS doesn't like people shipping Windows on underspecced hardware."

        Explain Intel's original Atom netbooks, then?

    • Re:Cripple Linux? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @12:38PM (#49529561)

      Makes me wonder about the economics of producing these things. Apparently something related to the OS choices makes it worth Intel's while to develop separate models and the infrastructure to build each one, rather than just building the higher spec model and slapping either OS onto it.

      It's things like this that hearken back to the glory days of the Evil Empire, and why people find it difficult to trust MS now.

      • by dj245 ( 732906 )

        Makes me wonder about the economics of producing these things. Apparently something related to the OS choices makes it worth Intel's while to develop separate models and the infrastructure to build each one, rather than just building the higher spec model and slapping either OS onto it.

        It's things like this that hearken back to the glory days of the Evil Empire, and why people find it difficult to trust MS now.

        Well, I can't speak for the Ubuntu one, but I have a Yoga 2 10" tablet with Windows 8 with nearly identical specs, only the Z3745 processor instead of this stick's Z3735. The difference in CPU is not significant.

        2GB of RAM is not enough for web pages with endless scrolling, such as Tumblr, or bloated pages such as Vice.com. Chrome sucks up the RAM, and when there is none left, things aren't pretty. I use "The Great Suspender" addon which saves unused tabs to disk and frees up memory, but even that is

        • by Wolfrider ( 856 )

          --You can turn endless scrolling off in your Preferences. Besides it's one of the stupidest ideas ever, once you scroll past something 99% of the time you'll never want to see it again (and if you do there's the "previous page" link, not to mention a lot of times the *same content* gets reposted by different followers) and it's uselessly taking up resources. 2GB of RAM should be _fine_ for web browsing, if people would only design their webpages a little smarter.

      • Apparently something related to the OS choices makes it worth Intel's while to develop separate models.

        The answer in one word: Sales.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Why in FSM's name are the Ubuntu version hardware specs lower?

      I'd bet: price. Once you pay the Windows tax, you might as well up the HW a bit at that pricepoint ($149), while the Linux version comes quite a bit cheaper ($89). There's a lot to be said for coming in under $100.

      Prices according to the first duckduckgo hit, accepted blindly as true.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      These are the minimal specs that make sense for either OS. Ubuntu is just a _lot_ more efficient.

  • But it's just an hdmi dongle right? I assume you can't hook up a keyboard and mouse to it? I'm not sure how this is better than the roku stick for instance...
    • LOL ... Intel inside, bitches.

      The article indicates it's got a single USB 2.0, and bluetooth ... from there you can probably get things hooked up.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        Yea, and lemme tell you, with most shit on the backside of a TV, and all that nice shielding in the casing, it's a fucker to get a wireless signal to reach and be received.

        Tried one. Already sent it back. If I need an extender cable to make a plug and pray device work, nope, see you, adios.

    • But it's just an hdmi dongle right? I assume you can't hook up a keyboard and mouse to it? I'm not sure how this is better than the roku stick for instance...

      TFA says there's a USB port for attaching a keyboard/mouse.

      • Actually, I thought the same thing initially:

        The other side of the Compute Stick is home to a security notch, a USB 2.0 port, a micro-USB / power port and the power button. Note that the micro-USB / power port CANNOT be used for connecting devices. That is the port where the included micro USB cable connects to provide power to the Compute Stick.

        So it's purely for supplying power.

        But, it's got Bluetooth, so you can get keyboards and mice easily enough.

        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          but the USB 2.0 port should work great, no?

          • Oh, yes, I'm an idiot apparently.

            Somehow the two USB references got mashed up in my head.

            Yes, you are 100% correct ... there's a USB port you can use for devices, and one for power.

    • Can run x86 binaries and uses Intel HD graphics, so no gfx driver issues. Roku or other ARM sticks can't run x86 binaries and you have to deal with their binary blob gfx drivers that generally don't play well with new kernels. ARM binaries are vary by core vintage and soft vs hard float. Then there is the variety of gpu cores: MALI, Vivante, PowerVR, Broadcom. By contrast Intel has open source options and Intel supplied binaries that get updated, especially because the desktop chips use the same gpu.

      I t

      • I tried upgrading my laptop, in theory it would have been great - in reality it's a pain in the ass because although the distribution I used was i586, it required PAE support (which is present in the CPU buy the ID bits don't say so) so I had to use a custom kernel, so now I can't upgrade it through the package manager.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is standard PC hardware and can run a multitude of standard PC operating systems with no modification. Linux. BSD. Windows, etc. They do now, and will continue to do in to the future.

      Arm based android "sticks", in practice, can run the mystery build of android they shipped with and that's it. No upgrades. No documentation.

      Intel has taken standard x86-64 hardware and pushed it down in to the power and thermal envelope where only ARM occupied before. Arm is nice, but it's flexibility has led to a lack of

      • by mlts ( 1038732 )

        Its hardware specs are modest, but the Compute Stick does have one item that might be useful -- slap VMWare or a hypervisor on it, and use it for a Web browsing VM, using App-V so that the browser appears seamless.

        The advantage of doing things this way a hardware level of isolation. Should the browser (or add-ons) get compromised, the malware has to get out of the VM, and even then... the compromise is limited to a rather small amount of hardware so if there is some attack that is able to fry the CPU or mo

        • vmware's overhead is heavy on small devices, 180MB of RAM (and add about 60MB per cpu core above that) and about 10-15% cpu overhead.

          that extra load is essentially zero on a normal system by today's standards, but at the very low end it hurts

          • by mlts ( 1038732 )

            I do agree that it does add a non-trivial amount of load, but the purpose of it being there is for isolation (keep the malware away from the bare metal like the actual HDD firmware) and snapshot capabilities -- if the VM gets completely compromised, the entire thing can be rolled back fairly quickly. With 2GB of RAM [1], it can support some low-end OS partitions.

            [1]: I've seen some low-end netbooks ship with Windows 8.1 and 2GB RAM, so even though it is a painfully low amount of RAM, I'm guessing someone

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      It has an USB2.0 port. That would do for Keyboard and mouse. Maybe. The thing would need to be able to access Keyboard and Mouse via a hub. That is often a problem. I think this device is basically intended as a streaming endpoint with remote administration. At least for Linux, that is perfectly painless.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "It has an USB2.0 port. That would do for Keyboard and mouse. Maybe."

        If 480Mbit is only good for keyboard and mouse, I don't even want to touch any software or hardware you design, EVER.

  • by itsme1234 ( 199680 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @12:25PM (#49529427)

    There are a bunch of tablets on Amazon right now with Z3735G (which I assume is about the same if not better as the Z3735F) for less than $100.

    They come (of course) with battery, probably charger, screen (of course) and so on. How is this stupid stick "cheap" for $100-$150?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Z3735G (which I assume is about the same if not better as the Z3735F)

      Yep, that's correct, G is a nudge faster than F.

      CPUMark: Z3735F [cpubenchmark.net], Z3735G [cpubenchmark.net].

      • Weird, the F and G appear the be the same, except the F has twice the memory bandwidth. It should be a little better than the G.
        There aren't many samples in those benchmarks though. The CPU does change its frequency based on thermal constraints though. Benchmark results can depend on the ambient temperature and thermal design of the product.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You are absolutely correct. Check out the MicroCenter Winbook tablets.
      For a lot less money, you can buy a tablet with all of this:

      IPS LCD Screen 1280 x 800
      Capacitive Touch Screen (5-Point Multi-Touch)
      Full size USB 2.0
      3.5mm Audio
      Micro USB
      Micro HDMI
      Bluetooth 4.0
      Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
      Front Camera 2 Megapixel
      Rear Camera 2 Megapixel
      Integrated Mic
      Sensors G-Sensor, Light Sensor
      USB Power Plug & Charging Cable;
      Built-in speakers
      Battery Rechargeable Lithium Polymer
      AC Adapter

      • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

        Yet for all that, it still can't fit into your pocket or plug into any HDMI TV without an adapter or cable. Sometimes having less is more...and paying more for less is better.

        • by aliquis ( 678370 )

          How often do you need to take your "TV-computer" in your pocket?

          And why won't a tablet do there?
          And why is a cable such an horror?

          • This is an out of the way device. Do you want to plug your tablet unto your TV and then yank it out whenever you want to take it somewhere? Do you want an old laptop or (god forbid) a desktop sculling around your TV rig/entertainment centre? Some people don't care, some do. You're probably looking at getting a wireless keyboard/mouse on this thing that you can chuck somewhere when you're not using it.

            People are too fixated on the specs and 'I can get device X that will work perfectly well in the same capac
        • The Intel Compute Stick doesn't take power from the HDMI connector. It requires a power point and power adapter and power cable.
          Presumably it requires more power than HDMI inputs and dish out.

          The tablet only requires a single cable, and can run off its internal battery.
          Sometimes having less is more...

      • Okay that price is fucking impressive.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by barc0001 ( 173002 )

      These HDMI sticks are meant for a certain thing, and replacing a tablet isn't one of them. But try taking any one of those cheap tablets and connect it neatly to your TV and let me know how that's working for you. I am betting none of them have HDMI out capability at that price point.

      The point of these sticks are to be a media device, or a low power workstation/presentation device and to be relatively simple to integrate into a large display for both uses, which it is.

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        Challende accepted:
        http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-T... [amazon.com]

        First hit, $110 with micro-HDMI.

        And as he said with screen "1280x800 IPS", just 1 GB of RAM but on the other hand also two cameras.

        Anything more you want me to Google for you?

        • So for $110 it comes with a microhdmi cable that also leaves a USB port free, or do you need to also buy a hub and hope that doesn't cause interference with the video signal out? And what does that do for OTG function or are you just entirely SOL on that with the display plugged in? And of course how does one mount that neatly and out of sight to their TV/retail display for free? Duct tape or something a little more elegant?

          It's also worth mentioning that this tablet has half the storage and half the mem

          • Oops, should have looked at all the pictures before commenting. I see the mini HDMI port on there so that's nice. Still half the RAM and storage though. And I've never heard of this company before so rather than taking a chance on some unknown, I would recommend you get an HP Stream 7" tablet:

            http://store.hp.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/us/en/pdp/tablets/hp-stream-7-tablet---5701#!

            I have one of these and it does what it says on the tin and it has 32 GB of storage. No HDMI out though.

          • http://www.dx.com/p/meegopad-t... [dx.com]

            $110, 2GB ram 32GB storage. for $10 less you can choose 16GB, either way its got a MicroSD slot to expand it.

            It's pretty much the same thing as the new Intel one. Same CPU, same amount of RAM, same storage, as Bluetooth and wifi, except it was announced back in October last year or thereabouts.

            $40 cheaper as well.

            • Nice, but the average lifespan of electronics I've purchased in the past from DealExtreme makes me very leery. I'll spend the extra $40 less shipping on getting a part from a vendor with a solid reputation, thanks.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        " But try taking any one of those cheap tablets and connect it neatly to your TV and let me know how that's working for you. I am betting none of them have HDMI out capability at that price point."

        Uhhh, yea. Works just fucking fine, cost me $99.

        Could you shut the fuck up about things you obviously know nothing of?

    • it's first gen.

      prices will go down.

      but realistically, where else are you going to get a $99 general purpose desktop computer that you can put in your pocket and carry around?

      • by Thiez ( 1281866 )
        It's not really a useful general purpose computer that you can carry around unless the keyboard, mouse, required usb-hub, cables, and screen also fit in your pocket. Whenever you get to a location where all that stuff is present, then there is probably already a computer present (otherwise why would all that stuff be lying around?). Now compare with a good usb memory stick: you don't have to connect all those cables, and it has much more storage for the same price.
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      I bought an Android "Google TV" HDMI stick on Amazon for $30. I've been using it for a couple years now, and it works great! If I were to do it again, I'd probably spring for a Roku stick.

      I agree, $100-$150 is a bit high for the market.

    • Tablets that run full-blown desktop Windows or Linux? At that price point, I'm assuming Android x86 tablets... prove me wrong with a link (please? If the damned things have at least 2gigs of RAM and run full Win8.1 I'll probably buy one right away, because my Win8.1 tablet is stupid huge at 11.6" - people look at me funny when I take it to the bathroom :p).

      Also: this stick is ideal for people who don't want a full-blown HTPC in their living room, but also don't want to fuck around with "app-y" shit a la Chr

  • by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @12:37PM (#49529549) Homepage

    It's specced way too low to really be useful as a general computing device, and the form factor is 'weird' to say the least. It's too big to really be called a stick, and too small to be able to pack a decent cpu. There's plenty of space behind the monitor for a somewhat larger device in a better form factor. The stick is a play toy that you will become disappointed with very quickly (think the old 'netbook' concept Intel tried to push a few years ago... that's what the stick feels like).

    Honestly, the 'compute stick' makes zero sense for a TV-mounted device. It is far better to just go with a chrome cast stick or an AppleTV for airplay and using a pad or cell in your hand to control it if you want to throw a display up on the TV. Otherwise you will be fumbling around with a horrible remote or you have to throw together a bluetooth keyboard (etc...) and it just won't be a fun or convenient experience.

    My recommendation... don't bother with this gadget. Instead, spend a bit more money and get an Intel NUC or Gigabyte BRIX (both based on Broadwell). And get at least the i5 version, the lack of turbo in the i3 version is telling. e.g. i5-5200 based box or better. It will cost significantly more than the stick, but it packs a decent cpu, can take up to 16GB of ram (2x204pin SO-DIMM DDR3), and depending on the model might even have room for a 2.5" SSD or HDD in it. The broadwell i5-5200U makes for quite a reasonable compact workstation and boxes based on it will be almost universally dual-headed. Of course, whatever floats your boat but I would definitely say that the lowest-priced Intel NUC or Gigabyte BRIX that is haswell-based or broadwell-based is still going to be an order of magnitude better than the compute stick.

    I have one of the Gigabyte GB-BXi5H-5200's myself ('H' version fits a normal 2.5" SSD or HDD) and packed 16GB of ram into it. It is dual-headed so I can drive two displays with it and the box is small enough to mount on the back of a monitor if you so desire (it even includes a mounting plate and most monitors, such as LG monitors, are ready to take it). And if mounting it on the back of a TV doesn't make sense, mount it on the back of a monitor instead or just let it float behind the monitor. It's a small box, after all, it won't get in the way of anything. 4-thread (2-core), 2.2 GHz turbo to 2.7 GHz. Dual-head. Decent.

    -Matt

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is what you want bro, it is user ugradable and Intel inside.
      http://www.amazon.com/HP-Stream-200-010-Mini-Desktop/dp/B00R7R1GWK

      • All the older haswell-based boxes have dropped in price significantly. They make decent boxes too as long as you are not compute-heavy. E.G. the 2957U is 2-core, no hypthreading, 1.4 GHz, no-turbo, and no AESNI (so https and other crypto is slow). Whereas even the Broadwell i3-5200U is 2-core/4-thread, 2.2 GHz with Turbo to 2.7 GHz, and has AESNI.

        I have an Acer C720P chromebook running DragonFly (BSD) with the 2955U in it, which is very close to the 2957U. I would call it decent for its purpose and it c

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Yep and it's worse for a media center than a Raspberry Pi 2.

      More expensive, lower horsepower, goofy and limited. It's a failstick.

      • Yep and it's worse for a media center than a Raspberry Pi 2.

        1GB RAM equals fail. If you can slap Linux on the 2GB version of this stick then it's good. It's still around $70 to get a R-Pi with a case, power supply, and HDMI cable. That is substantially more expensive though, so if the Pi will serve your needs, so be it.

    • I could see a company using this as a thin client for employees that remote into centralized VM desktops, especially if their needs are limited.

      I know most people in my company do anything of consequence on remote servers/desktops.

      Their local machine is mostly just web browsing and email.

    • I think one of the main markets for this are store displays, trade shows or similar where it does indeed make sense to plug it into a large display, fire up a local media file and let it loop or run a simple interactive terminal for entering addresses and the like. For those kinds of tasks a Chromecast or Apple TV won't work and a NUC or Brix is both overkill and you also now have a little box that needs mounting whereas this thing just slots into an HDMI port and it's done.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      Honestly, the 'compute stick' makes zero sense for a TV-mounted device. It is far better to just go with a chrome cast stick or an AppleTV for airplay and using a pad or cell in your hand to control it if you want to throw a display up on the TV. Otherwise you will be fumbling around with a horrible remote or you have to throw together a bluetooth keyboard (etc...) and it just won't be a fun or convenient experience.

      I have such a stick on my TV, and it works great! It's *not* an ideal general computing device, but it is pretty much ideal for a Smart TV thingie.

      As far as input devices, we use either a bluetooth Logitech keyboard/touchpad device, or a "flying mouse" remote. Both work rather well. If you haven't one, you should check out a "flying mouse" remote on Amazon for under $20 [amazon.com] and work by waving your hand. It's really easy and rather intuitive once you get past a 1 minute introduction. Oh, and it contains a full

  • I would love to see touch-screen TV's become more prevalent and cheaper. As soon as they do, I pair a touch-screen TV with one of these dongles, and I have a perfect display & presentation tool for business conference rooms and classrooms.

  • http://gizmodo.com/intel-compu... [gizmodo.com]

    Pretty in dept review on why it sucks. For example want to use Bluetooth and Wifi? Don't plan on it as they're both handled by the same controller and the BT lags to shit when Wifi is enabled.

  • I am running a tech preview of 10 and it blows up to over 30 gig in a very short period of time without even downloading movies and the like. Unless 8.1 has disk space limits on install expect your customers to run out of room on the stick in a hurry. The Ubuntu users with less room most likely will not have these issues as they will be smart enough to use expansion cards for storage and Ubuntu does not blow up like a balloon with gobs of update rescue backups.

    What I predict will happen is that typical wind

  • It's not a complete review by any stretch.

    All it says for Netflix is that it's 'flawless'. What about some details behind that? does it do HD properly? Does it output 5.1 surround sound?

    Also, they didn't go through any really good playback reviews. Like..does it have the power to play blu-ray rips in mkv? Does it output 5.1 surround sound? Can it output DTS-HD/Tru HD?

    To me (and probably others) This kind of information is VITAL.

  • Wi-fi is not reliable enough, doubly so in crowded airspace around apartment blocks and the like. This would be much more attractive if it let me go RJ45 -> Stick -> TV.

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