The competition around the "computing stick" -- a flash-drive-sized PC that connects to a display via an HDMI port -- is quickly heating up. Intel gave it plenty of visibility with the release of its Compute Stick early this year, and Lenovo joined this week with its announcement of the Ideacentre Stick 300. Now French device maker Archos, which has tried valiantly to make a name for itself with Android and Windows tablets and the like over the years, is jumping in quickly with a stick of its own.
Prosaically named the PC Stick, Archos' version has one major advantage over the current competition: price. While the Windows version of Intel's Compute Stick runs $149, and the Ideacentre Stick 300 will retail at $129, the PC Stick is priced at $99. Spec-wise, it's similar to those models, coming with an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard flash storage, and built-in Wi-Fi. Whereas the Lenovo will come with either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, Archos says the PC Stick will ship only with the newest version of Windows.
As the above picture shows, the PC Stick's size is as diminutive as its price. However, it does not include any input devices, so you will have to use your own wireless keyboard and mouse to operate the PC. Intel has just released another control option in the form of its free Remote Keyboard Android app (an iOS version is supposedly forthcoming), which theoretically should also work with the PC Stick or Ideacentre Stick.
A bit of a turf war is emerging between Windows-based stick PCs and Google-related OS flavors. Dell's Wyse division has offered an Android PC stick since early last year, and Asus is producing a Chromebit stick running the search giant's Chrome OS. Intel also offers a Linux edition of the Compute Stick, though at $110, it's still pricier than Archos' PC Stick, which doesn't have an official release date yet.
Are any of these computing sticks enticing enough to make you want to buy one? If not, what are they missing? Let us know in the discussion section below.