PC-on-a-Stick is a term that refers to a small USB flash drive-sized device that can be plugged into an HDMI-compatible TV or monitor to provide a complete personal computing (PC) experience. PC-on-a-Stick devices are primarily designed for light productivity work as well as Web browsing, social networking, video chatting and media streaming.
Also called Stick PCs or Compute Sticks, PC-on-a-Stick devices are typically pared with a Bluetooth wireless keyboard and mouse for user input, although USB wired hardware can be used as well via an included USB port on the PC-on-a-Stick. Most PC-on-a-Stick devices are powered by a ARM or Intel Atom system-on-a-chip (SoC) with either Windows (8.1 or Windows 10) or a Linux distribution (typically Ubuntu) serving as the device’s operating system.
PC-on-a-Stick Vendors and Use Cases
Intel released its version of PC-on-a-Stick as the Intel Compute Stick in 2015, and Lenovo, Archos, Amazon (Fire Stick) and Google (Chromecast) all have their own PC-on-a-Stick devices available. Prices for these devices range on the low end from about $35 – $40 for the limited-functionality Chromecast and Fire Stick devices to between $99 for the Archos and $149 for the Windows version of the Intel Compute Stick at the high end.
While PC-on-a-Stick devices lack the power and full functionality of traditional desktop and laptop PCs, their portability, inexpensive pricing and low energy usage make them attractive and versatile for a wide variety of use cases, particularly on the consumer end.