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Asus in collaboration with Google today launched the much-awaited Chromebit, a dongle that can be connected to a ‘dumb’ TV to make it run Google’s desktop operating system, Chrome OS. At a price point of just $85, the device is pretty cheap too, but that shouldn’t matter as you’re better off without it. Here’s why you should purchase a $150 Intel Compute Stick instead.
The answer is three folds: hardware, software, and performance.
The Chromebit is powered by a low-end processor from a chipmaker you’ve not heard much of — Rockchip RK3288 quad-core, paired with 2GB of RAM, and 16 gigs of internal storage.
Intel’s Compute Stick, on the other hand, is powered by a relatively higher Intel Atom Z3735F with support for Intel Virtualisation Technology. It comes paired with 2GB of DDR3L RAM and 32GB of internal storage with an option to extend it using a microSD card.
The Intel Compute Stick runs full-fledged Windows 10 operating system. Which means that you can run different Web browsers on it — decide which Web browser you like. You can play movies on it using a dedicated media player of your choice — think VLC, K-Lite etc. You can also play light games on it.
As for productivity, the Intel Compute Stick supports Microsoft Office, or any other productivity suite you prefer. You can continue to work on it even when there is no data connectivity. Using a USB-hub, you can also transfer and access files, play media content from your external hard drive.
The Chromebit runs Chrome OS, which is largely an operating system around Chrome Web browser. As you might be familiar, Chrome has a name for being a resource hog, so you can imagine the kind of experience that you should expect from this miniature computer. It also requires you need to have a working internet connection for most usage, because as you can guess, it is essentially Chrome Web browser. Besides, running a Web browser on a TV, might not offer the best of entertainment/productivity experience.
Having personally used an Intel Compute Stick, I can vouch that the device was able to run multiple tabs on Chrome with one of them running a video on YouTube at 1080P screen resolution. I also tried Microsoft Office, and while with multiple applications running simultaneously, the device understandably starts to tumble at performance, the overall experience you expect from a $150 device (probably available for cheaper at your local market), was pleasant.
As for the performance of the Chromebit. Here’s how Fast Company found it in its review, “[…] controlling a full desktop browser through the television has always been a clunky experience, and the Chromebit does nothing to make it better. Website text can be hard to read from the couch 10 feet away, and you have to squint to make out the tiny mouse cursor. Chrome’s settings will let you blow up text and enlarge the cursor, but even these tweaks can’t make up for the comfort that comes from a proper TV remote. The living room just isn’t a natural habitat for mouse and keyboard controls.”
Commenting on the performance, the publication writes, “the Chromebit is so underpowered that it can’t even handle Flash video without choppiness, which is distracting if not unwatchable. Sites that use HTML5 instead of Flash fare better, but many popular websites haven’t made the switch yet, and appear to be in no rush.”
If you don’t want to spend twice as much money, you might want to check out $99-priced Kangaroo PC, which runs Windows 10 Home and offers better processing power.
What’s your thoughts on this? Share with us via the comments section below.
You can order Intel Compute Stick here from Amazon.