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Gadgets

Intel's Compute Card could keep your gadgets from going obsolete

No, it won't fit in your wallet -- but it could save your TV.

Not bad...but the Compute Card is 5mm thick. (Credit cards are 0.76mm thick.)

Intel

How often do you buy a new TV or smart fridge? (Probably not often.) But how quickly do your appliance's smarts go obsolete?

The Intel Compute Card -- a credit-card shaped PC just announced at CES 2017 -- is a stab at making upgrades for big, bulky devices far more easy.

While it's not quite small enough to fit in your wallet (it's thicker than five cards stacked together), it is a full-fledged Intel computer with a 7th-gen Intel Core CPU, memory, storage, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity all packed into a slottable, swappable cartridge form.

(It uses what Intel's calling a "USB-C plus extension connector" to provide USB and PCIe data connectivity along with both HDMI and DisplayPort video signals to the devices it goes inside. I guess Intel's Thunderbolt, which does the same thing, couldn't quite fit.)

Intel doesn't necessarily see you slotting this into your existing computer -- it's more likely to appear in (what are currently) harder-to-upgrade devices like smart TVs, refrigerators and other appliances, cars, digital signs and kiosks.

"Device makers simply design a standard Intel Compute Card slot into their device and then utilize the best Intel Compute Card for their performance and price needs," writes Intel.

If this sounds familiar, you might be thinking of the Intel Compute Stick -- but that device is quite a bit different.

Intel tells CNET it will make the Compute Card and slots itself, but that a whole host of partners are currently exploring the best way to use it, including HP, Dell, Lenovo, Sharp, Seneca, DTx, InFocus, TabletKiosk and Pasuntech.

The Compute Card should be available in mid-2017, says Intel.

You can read more about Intel's connected car ambitions in my colleague Stephen Shankland's piece here.