Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks

Intel has also been putting some effort on the software side for the Compute Stick platform. One of the main problems with the platform is the limited availability of USB ports. In addition, the use-cases often tend to rule out wired I/O peripherals (keyboard and mouse). However, in certain situations (such as the 'entertainment' use-case), the consumer often has a second screen available (either a tablet or a smartphone). Intel has a free Android / iOS app - the Intel Remote Keyboard - to take advantage of the second screen.

The host application comes pre-installed on the Compute Stick and is active at startup as a service. Therefore, one can use it to even enter credentials for system login. It allows the second screen keyboard to act as the primary keyboard for the Compute Stick and the screen itself to act as a trackpad for the mouse pointer on the Compute Stick's display. In our evaluation, the app worked well. Our only wish is for the in-built keyboard in the app to have a 'Tab' key.

Moving on to the business end of the review, we complained in our Bay Trail Compute Stick evaluation that 32GB of primary storage does not cut it on any computing device other than a tablet or smartphone. Unfortunately, the Cherry Trail Compute Stick doesn't solve that problem. Initiating Windows update after boot-up installs the latest build. However, after the whole process is done, Windows basically backs up the previous install in Windows.old. It leaves only 5GB of free space in the eMMC drive (no other programs installed). One needs to manually run Disk Cleanup to remove the previous installation. In the meanwhile, performance suffers. On top of that Windows loses its activation status in the update and refuses to activate.

More importantly, the latest build doesn't have the Wi-Fi drivers for the machine. So, the unit can't communicate with the network at all until the the WLAN drivers are downloaded on another machine, brought in to the Compute Stick via USB and installed manually. It is surprising that the AC7265 drivers are not part of the Win10 update installation.

Coming to the thermal solution, the fan curves are very annoying. In a quiet room, the fan kicks on and off randomly (depending on the CPU temperature and load), and the sudden whine is not pleasing at all. It is very similar to the Bay Trail Compute Stick in this respect. That said, most of the time, the unit is quite silent - almost as if the fan is not running at all.

On the plus side, it is very nice to get a 2x2 AC7265 802.11ac WLAN card in the unit. The improved GPU along with the updated media playback capabilities is also very welcome. CPU performance is not improved much over the Bay Trail version, but the Core M Compute Sticks due later this year should help address that aspect. Intel has been listening to feedback on the Bay Trail Compute Stick and the Cherry Trail iteration has managed to address many of the problems. A few still remain, but there is no reason why these Compute Sticks can't become as popular as the NUC a couple of generations down the line.

Power Consumption and Thermal Performance
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  • Gunbuster - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Yeah okay, plugs into HDMI, guess what people have... 4K TV's. Reply
  • easp - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    No, most people don't have 4K TVs and aren't rushing to buy them. Sorry. You see, you can't both have bragging rights for buying the latest and greatest and claim that everyone has them. Reply
  • kaesden - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    its a shame there isn't a power over HDMI standard for devices like this so they could exist with no wires and just plug into a tv or monitor and be done with it. Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    And also USB over HDMI so you can use the TV's USB ports for extra storage etc...
    And while we are at it, make the TV expose its tuners and CI slot for use by the stick as well.
    Reply
  • icrf - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    MHL is the closest we get. I don't know that many TVs have it. I think one of the ports on my receiver does. I think the Roku streaming stick uses it. Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    What are the odds we soon get a TV that's got one of these things built-in instead of sticking out? Lots already run Android or such, why not switch to x86 and full Windows? Reply
  • Visual - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    (tho I do appreciate the mobility aspect of a stick too) Reply
  • easp - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    And upgradability... Reply
  • Bull Dog - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    "Netflix streaming evaluation was done using the Windows 8.1 Netflix app."

    Should that read the Windows 10 Netflix app?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Thursday, January 14, 2016 - link

    Thanks for pointing out the typo - it is fixed now. Reply

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