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Turn any TV into a computer with a mobile internet stick
What Is a Computer Stick?
A computer stick may look like a USB thumb drive, but the reality is these devices are ultra-portable computers. Advances in processor technology mean manufacturers are able to shrink down the CPU and and supporting chips into a tiny form factor. For example, an Intel Compute stick is about the size of a pack of gum, yet it has up to a Core m5 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) processor with 32GB or more of onboard storage, Bluetooth and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Plug a computer stick into your TV’s HDMI port, connect a wireless keyboard and mouse, and you instantly have an entry level computer!
Different Types of Computer Sticks
There are different variations of computer sticks available from multiple manufacturers. Some are basic models capable of running Windows 10 along with a web browser and productivity software.
But there are also computer sticks with quad-core Intel processors, 4GB of RAM and integrated graphics that make them powerful enough to stream HD video, run image editing software, multitask, and even play casual video games. Some of these more advanced computer sticks include options like a USB port for connecting accessories, and even microSDXC card slots to expand storage.
You won’t be able to use a Compute Stick to play AAA games at high resolution, or to edit 4K video, but these stick computers can be capable of covering the basics.
As you might expect given the modest hardware requirements of Google’s popular Chrome OS, there are also computer sticks designed to run Chrome, including the Chromebit.
What all of these different types of Computer sticks have in common is the tiny “stick” form factor, and an HDMI connector to plug them into a TV or monitor.
The Advantages of Computer Sticks
Computer sticks have some real advantages over traditional PCs and laptops. Their tiny size and low cost make them ideal for use in a family room or a child’s room. Wherever there’s a TV, plugging in one of these mini PCs means the TV can be used as a Windows or Chrome computer when needed, at minimal cost and without taking up additional space.
Those same advantages make computer sticks popular in business applications, such as running presentations or promotions on a big-screen TV or monitor. The computer is safely hidden out of sight so customers can’t interfere with it, and there is less equipment to clutter the area, or be carried around for setup.