The Intel Compute Stick when it first launched last year felt like a concept or prototype that wasn’t meant to be used by consumers but they have by far stepped up the mark with this one and created an experience you’ll want to try out.
Portability is key with this product and as such it’s not changed much in terms of size, sadly it still needs an external power adapter but that’s expected when you’re powering a Intel Core M3 and delivering a complete Windows 10 computer in such a small device.
That external power does come with a great bonus of two USB 3.0 slots on it meaning some of those peripherals can be hidden away. These, plus the one still on the stick mean you’ll have three USB ports to play with and of course you can always get a StarTech USB hub. If you need more. It’s also now powered over a USB-C (double check) of which is a great length until the previous generation where the cable was just too short.
Set-up for this device straight out of the box takes about 5mins before you’re ready to learn, tweet, surf or create. It boots right into the Windows setup and allows you to link accounts and change setups all in preparation, this is of course standard for Windows 10 but it’s still feels nice.
Once booted up and logged in you’ll get a whole host of things to play around with but the important programs are still easy to access. As this device comes with 1 month of Office 365 Home you’ll be able to try before you buy but also get straight into your work, this does however take time to download as it’s not preinstalled.
One of the main reasons extras such as this aren’t pre-installed is that at just 64GB you could find yourself fitting for space but in some cases this isn’t strictly correct. When testing I had the whole Microsoft Office suite, Teamviewer, Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Acrobat DC and Dreamweaver but still had over 27GB free which was very pleasing.
Meeting the minimum requirements of such a power hungry set of applications I was interested to learn of how well it’d perform within the creative suite. As you’d expect this small device isn’t strictly designed for this type of usage but for small jobs within one program it’d be possible but the conditions for this could be seen as far from ideal. It was able to boot all three main applications at once but you’ll have less than enough memory to support trying to use all three with multiple documents at once.
On the flipside, however, the Microsoft suite is perfectly suited and multiple spreadsheets whilst having many other documents and programs open work seamless.
It’s not just work you can do on this device though, it’ll open a whole world of entertainment for you and your family. With its full version Windows 10 pre-installed you’ll be able to access content across all major streaming services, your personal library or NAS and the device itself. Intel have also created a great companion app that serves as a remote on your mobile phone so if you aren’t a fan of Bluetooth keyboards but want to use this upon your TV in the comfort of your sofa this may be the option for you.
If you don’t have a NAS and prefer to keep all your home movies on the device itself then you’ll be happy to know you can take advantage of a Micro SD slot which supports up to 128GB additional storage.
If you’re looking to use this for digital advertising displays or within your Ultra HD TV you’ll be happy to know that 4K is supported. Testing upon a ViewSonic 4K Monitor I jumped straight into Netflix and started streaming some Ultra HD content, the picture was outstanding use with no buffering, lag or distortion. It’s always nice when a device just works how you expect and doesn’t kick up a fuss.
Overall I think Intel has raised the game in pocket sized computing and if this model is anything to go by the M5 edition will be the best one yet!
Shop the Intel Compute stick here.