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Intel Unveils $149 ‘Compute Stick’, Possible Mac mini HTPC Rival [CES 2015]

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At CES 2015 in Las Vegas Intel has unveiled the Compute Stick, which is an HDMI stick that allows you to run Windows 8.1 apps on your TV.

Essentially, Intel’s new device is a full Windows PC with the form factor of a streaming media device, like the Amazon Fire TV Stick or Roku Streaming Stick. The PC-on-a-stick can be seen as a competitor to a traditional streaming media device like an Apple TV, however, it looks to be more of a competitor in the home theatre PC space.

Typically enthusiasts will setup a home theatre with a full PC, like a Mac Mini. While Apple’s $500 desktop computer is affordable for the capabilities it provides, there is still a price barrier for most people. Being able to run full Windows apps directly on your TV allows you to do certain things that a traditional set-top box won’t let you do. For example, the ability to browse the Internet or play your favourite PC games isn’t possible on a traditional streaming device, however it is possible with a fully functional PC.

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Intel’s solution aims to bring a fully capable computer to your TV with the form factor of a conventional USB stick. The Compute Stick will come in a Windows 8.1 version and a less expensive Linux version.

The Windows version will run Windows 8.1 and it will include 2GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage. The Linux variant will only come with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of built-in storage, which is made possible by the operating system’s smaller footprint.

Both devices come with a microSD card slot for expanding storage space, a full-sized and micro USB port, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The Compute Stick relies on the micro USB port for power, as opposed to other HDMI sticks that can be powered directly through the HDMI port.

The Intel Compute Stick will be available for purchase in March. The Windows 8.1 version of the device will cost $149 and the Linux version will cost $89.

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