Friday, September 25, 2015

A tale of two small computers

They are not the best of computers, they are not the worst of computers...

I've had a chance to play with a couple of small computers - the HP Stream Mini and the Intel Compute Stick and thought I'd provide a brief perspective on these devices.

They’re relatively inexpensive (Stick: $150, Stream: $245) and both currently run Windows 8.1 with Bing (the "with Bing" is really not important - it's just the free version of Windows 8.1 that inexpensive PC manufacturers are using.)

While the Stick is a lot cheaper, you need to buy a keyboard, a mouse and a multiport USB adapter in order to use it, and it’s performance is noticeably lower. The Stream mini is much larger, but it is reportedly easier to open and modify, if you’re into that sort of thing. They both require you to supply a monitor.

The HP Stream Mini has recently disappeared from the HP Store – it looks like they may be replacing it with the Pavilion Mini at a higher price point. Amazon used to sell the Stream Mini for $180, but their current price shows $245… Once you get into the $300+  price range of the Pavilion, you’re getting into the cheap desktop space where there is lots of other competition.

The Intel Compute Stick looks like a work in progress (or maybe a proof of concept) – if you just need a tiny computer the Raspberry Pi is a better deal. But if you need a tiny computer that runs Windows 8.1 desktop, the Compute Stick could be it.

I’ve heard that people have tried to update both to Windows 10 without much success – the very small SSDs makes this difficult.

Here are some specs:

HP Stream Mini
1.4 GHz processor
802.11 b/g/n WiFi
4 USB 3 ports
DisplayPort, HDMI
SD card slot
Power supply
Headphone jack
Keyboard & mouse

Intel Compute Stick
1.3 GHz processor
802.11 b/g/n
1 USB 2 port
Micro SD card slot
Power supply

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