The Good The Intel Compute Stick excels as a media streaming, Web-browsing machine, and it's a $150 PC that can fit into your pocket.
The Bad The tablet-grade performance isn't suitable for heavy tasks, and spotty Bluetooth connectivity limit this PC's functionality.
The Bottom Line This inexpensive PC is an exciting experiment, but the tablet hardware can't quite keep up with Intel's vision of a mini-PC.
The little PC that almost could
The Intel Compute Stick is a PC that fits in the palm of your hand and costs $150, £115 or AU$229. It plugs into a display's HDMI port, and -- when connected to Wi-Fi and peripherals -- offers the full Windows 8 experience. (Like all current PCs, it's eligible for a freeupgrade later this year, too.)
But having the full Windows experience doesn't necessarily mean you'll have the best experience. The Stick houses a lightweight Atom processor that's usually found in Intel-based tablets, so don't expect to do any heavy image editing or high-end gaming. The Compute Stick needs to be plugged in to power at all times -- there's no battery -- via its Micro-USB port, and Bluetooth performance is finicky at best.
But this is nevertheless a exciting little experiment from Intel, as the Stick offers a great HD streaming experience you can fit in your pocket. You don't want it as a primary PC in your home, but don't too quick to dismiss it. Hobbyists and tinkerers especially may find the Compute Stick well worth the price; those with less patience should opt for something like the HP Stream 11 laptop, which offers a more polished, self-contained bargain Windows experience for just a bit more cash.
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