Intel's gum-sized compute stick is really cool but won't be a blockbuster hit


Intel Compute Stick


Intel's Compute Stick can turn your TV into a PC.

One of the big surprises from Intel's new Skylake chip announcement this week was the chip's compatibility with a wide range of products, from traditional desktop PCs and 2-in-1 laptops all the way down to the tiny compute stick PCs.


Intel made a point of stressing how even the 4-inch Compute Stick introduced earlier this year will be upgraded with the new Core processors.

That means by plugging the $149 device into the back of your TV or monitor's HDMI port, you could run Windows 10, and get some of the new features optimized for it - while consuming less power and enjoying snazzier graphics.

Considering that it's about the size of a pack of gum, Intel's compute stick is quite an impressive gizmo. It's essentially a fully-functional computer that comes packed with your choice of operating system (either a Windows or Ubuntu), wireless connection, memory, storage, HD graphics and audio. And its upgraded performance with the new Skylake chips will probably drive more people to try it.

But does that mean we'll all one day start owning tiny PC-on-a-stick devices in the future? Probably not, according to some of the analysts we spoke to.


"It's a statement piece that says [Intel] can be low power and also be high performance," Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told us. "I don't think it's a mass market product, but it answers the question of 'Can Intel do low power?' better than ever."

IDC analyst Loren Loverde had a more grim view, saying it's unlikely the PC sticks will become a replacement for other lower-cost devices. "We think it'll have a hard time competing with other devices like lower-cost tablets, Chromebooks and Cloudbooks that are not much more expensive, but integrate a battery, screen, and touch/keyboard input," he said.

While Intel's own PC stick doesn't seem to excite a lot of people just yet, Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told us compute sticks could become popular if other PC manufacturers come up with better designs and use-cases.

"It's an an intriguing form factor, especially for space-constrained environments and for users who need something highly portable," King said. "This is a situation where Intel's OEM/ODM partners will make all the difference. If they come with compelling products and use-cases, the PC stick could be a solid hit."

Intel declined to offer the specifics of a Skylake-powered compute stick, only saying it will be available in early 2016.