The gap continues to close in the battle over the lowest cost technology for putting digital signage in the field, with news this morning that Asus is marketing a $129 PC on a stick that has an Intel processor under the teeny little hood.
The Asus VivoStick PC measures 5.4? x 1.3? x 0.6? and like other PC and ARM-based sticks, plugs into a spare HDMI port on a TV or monitor. It uses an Intel Atom Cherry Trail processor, and has one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, a micro USB port (for power) and a mic/headphone headset jack. It doesn’t have a microSD card slot, but has 2GB of memory and 32GB of eMMC flash storage.
Media reports suggest it can run Windows 10, and as far as I can tell from licensing agreements, the stripped-down Windows 10 IoT license is free for single use applications like signage. So this would be a Windows device at a real $129, not $129 plus whatever Windows costs.
However, and perhaps a huge however, it remains to be seen whether these devices have the graphics capabilities to play out HD video, and the engineering to handle 24/7 use.
There are endless numbers of sub-$100 ARM-based Android HDMI sticks on the market, but ask signage CTOs about them, and you will learn few advocate their use. One stick that has gained acceptance and adoption is Dell’s Wyse Cloud Connect, but that’s effectively a thin client for business use, not a streamer for the back of TVs. It also costs more than these sticks.
Asus is also supposed to be producing a ChromeOS Chromebit stick, but while it has been announced, it’s not out there. This VivoStick also doesn’t have a release date, and the gadgets were among a pile announced at the IFA trade show in Berlin today.