Are you ready for another PC on a stick? Lenovo this week joined a handful of companies that have come out with this concept by releasing the Ideacentre Stick 300. The portable gadget works with any HDMI-compatible device, which means it can be plugged it into a flat-screen TV -- or provide ultra-portable computing power to road warriors in hotel rooms or any location where there's a device with an HDMI port.
Set to hit retail shelves in early July, the Ideacentre is a late entry among super-portable PCs. In January, Intel introduced its own PC on a stick, the Intel Compute Stick. Dell and Google have also released similar devices. Intel’s $150 model offers an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of memory, and 32 GB eMMC flash storage.
The Ideacentre also boasts an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of memory, and 32 GB of storage, but for somewhat less money -- $129 suggested retail. It measures only 0.59 inches in width and will ship with Windows 8.1, upgradeable to Windows 10 at the end of July when the new operating system is released. The Ideacentre connects to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
"Our goal with the Ideacentre Stick 300 is to give those users a sense of freedom and enhanced mobility, while packing a serious punch in a small device," said Jun Ouyang, vice president and general manager of Worldwide Desktop and Visuals.
Keyboard and Mouse Needed
We reached out Jan Dawson, chief analyst for Utah-based Jackdaw Research, to get his thoughts on Intel's new device. Dawson said the product could meet a need for business travelers working in hotel rooms where it's often hard to use the TV for anything but watching television programming.
Although the dongle transforms almost any HDMI-compatible TV or monitor into a functioning Windows-based PC, it needs a 2.4 GHz wireless keyboard and mouse to perform such routine functions as creating documents, surfing the Web, and updating social media accounts.
"That means you're going to be carrying quite a few items with you as you travel just to use this, which significantly lessens the appeal," said Dawson. "All told, you could easily be looking at $200 or more for the total package, and for that you could easily buy an actual Chromebook laptop. Of course, for significantly less, you could just buy an HDMI adapter for an existing laptop, too."
Watch for Windows 10
Lenovo said the Ideacentre could be used to turn old monitors and keyboards into swiftly functioning new PCs. But Dawson said that these types of devices have never really taken off. The reason: while the premise seems simple, the reality is always more complex.
"At the same time, Microsoft is building functionality into Windows 10 that will see certain smartphones able to act as PCs when plugged into a monitor," said Dawson. "So to the extent that people are interested in this kind of functionality, that would be another way to accomplish it."