Quad-Core PC on a Stick

Tuesday , 20, January 2015 Leave a comment

In October 2014 I spotted an interesting item appear on AliExpress, however Christmas was upon us so I put aside buying one for a couple of months and almost ended up forgetting about it.

It was this PC in stick form, an item that on the face of it seemed like it was a bit too futuristic – I hadn’t seen anything else like it announced at the time, and it had no reviews to back up its credentials.

Fast forward to CES 2015, and Intel announce an almost identical device, right down to the Z3735F Bay Trail processor. That announcement spurred me to revisit the original one I found, and once I found that I could get it for £83 delivered vs $149 before delivery for the Intel device, I hit the order button immediately. Apparently the price is up to £90.64 now, but that’s still pretty good.

 

It arrived after about a week, and I plugged it straight into a TV and got to setting it up. This is it in the flesh.

One side of the device has a Micro-USB in and a Micro SDXC port as below, into which I popped a 128GB Micro SD.

The other side has a full-size USB port, a Micro-USB port for powering the device, and an innocuous power button. This is pretty much identical in every way to the Intel device from CES, albeit not as angularly pretty.

I had a ‘wow, this is the future!’ moment when I was entering my Microsoft account credentials to set up Win8.1 and it told me I’d need to enter a one-time code that it’d send to my email address, with that code flashing up on my Microsoft Band almost immediately. Yes it’s a bit scratched around the edges. Take my advice and get a screen protector for your band.

 

I ran a few basic performance tests and threw a 4k trailer for Interstellar at it and it didn’t even flinch, handling the video with aplomb. Here it is driving Win8.1 on our secondary TV.

It’s obviously never going to be a beast of a gaming machine, but as an XBMC box it will be perfect. In the workplace the use cases are manifold – this thing is cheaper and more powerful than the net top PCs we have running some of our NOC screens just now, for example.

Not exactly mind blowing, but really these are pretty good for the size of device.

Screenshot of System from the device – Z3735F Bay Trail, just like the Intel CES device. Awesome.

So overall pretty impressed – the product page claims it dual boots Android but if it does it’s not pre-loaded. Frankly I’m not exactly fussed by that though, it’s a full quad core Win8.1 PC in a form factor that’s smaller than my phone. Amazing.

I like living in the future.

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