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Intel's Compute Stick goes on sale for $149 with Windows 8.1

Intel's Compute Stick goes on sale for $149 with Windows 8.1

A Compute Stick with Ubuntu Linux will go on sale this summer for $110

Intel Compute Stick

Intel Compute Stick

Intel's thumb-size Compute Stick -- a PC that resembles a USB pen drive -- is now available with either Windows 8.1 or Linux.

The Compute Stick can turn a display with an HDMI port into a full Windows or Linux PC. Users can play games, stream video or run basic productivity applications, just like in an entry-level Windows laptop or tablet, but don't expect the thumb PC to be as fast.

Using Compute Stick could be as simple as plugging it into a TV or monitor, making it an attractive option for those who want a lightweight PC on the go. But you'll need to carry a keyboard and mouse to make the most of it.

The first Compute Stick will be for Windows 8.1, which will sell for US$149. A stick with Ubuntu Linux will be sold for $110 this summer. The thumb PC will be on sale online through Amazon, Best Buy and Newegg, Intel said.

Storage capabilities will differ on the Windows and Linux versions of the mini PC, according to Intel's specifications. The Windows device will have 32GB of eMMC storage and 2GB of memory. The Linux version will have 8GB of storage and 1GB of memory.

The PC will have a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F with base clock speed of 1.33GHz. It has one USB 2.0 port, a micro-SD slot, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0

Google recently introduced a thumb-size PC called Chromebit, which can turn any TV or monitor into a Chrome PC. But thumb PCs also have Android or other versions of Linux. The most prominent is Dell's $129 Cloud Connect, which has Android and functions more like a smartphone than PC, with a heavy reliance on online applications, storage and streaming services.

Compute Stick brings a Windows thumb PC to the market that will be more functional than the Android options. This could be especially useful in places where wireless access is limited.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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