For the past few years Chinese companies have been cranking out tiny sticks that you can plug into a TV to run Android apps. They look sort of like USB flash drives, but they have an HDMI connector where you’d normally find the USB connector, and they’re a bit chunky for a flash drive.
Under the hood, these little guys have the guts of an Android phone or tablet which means they typically have ARM-based processors. But now at least one company is manufacturing a version with an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor.
That means it should be able to support Windows 8.1 as well as Android, Ubuntu, or other operating systems.
A vendor on Chinese eCommerce site Alibaba is selling the Meegopad Intel Quad Core dongle for $70 per piece or less… but you need to order at least 500 units to place an order.
Update: There are now several options for purchasing the MeegoPad T01 and similar devices, but note that at least some models seem to ship with an unactivated version of Windows 8.1, which means you’ll need to either supply your own operating system or pay to continue using Windows after 30 days:
- It’s available from AliExpress for $110, but you’ll have to tack on another $15 for shipping to the United States.
- DealExtreme offers models for $100 and up.
- There are several models available from Amazon sellers for around $110 and up.
I thought the Zotac ZBOX PI320 pico I’m testing this week was tiny for a desktop Windows computer (because it is), but these new sticks could change what we think of as a Windows PC.
This model features either an Intel Atom Z3735F processor with 1GB of RAM and 32-bit software support or an Atom Z3735G processor with 2GB of RAM and support for 64-bit software.
Each version should be available with 16GB to 32GB of eMMC storage, a microSD card slot, 2 micro USB 2.0 ports, a full-sized USB 2.0 port, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and an HDMI connector.
It measures 3.9″ x 1.5″ x 0.4″ and weighs about 1.6 ounces.
Update: There are some more details at the website of the Shenzhen Apec Electronics company, which may be one of the manufacturers of this device.
Update 2: Padnews has a few real-world photos of the Meegopad stick.
Update 3: Intel plans to launch its own stick-sized computer in 2015.
It’s called the Intel Compute Stick and a Linux model with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage will sell for $89, while a Windows model with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage will run $149.