For years, we've been tempted by the idea of tiny Intel Atom-powered PCs built into Chromecast-esque dongles, plugging into our TVs' and monitors' HDMI ports with proper Windows 10 onboard. Asus's VivoStick might be the best version of that ideal yet, with a new Cherry Trail processor, a healthy serving of RAM and flash storage, and two USB ports.
The VivoStick is like the Intel Compute Stick in that it's built around a HDMI connector, plugging into your TV or monitor directly to display a Windows 10 desktop. Power doesn't come through the HDMI port's measly current, though — there's a microUSB port on the VivoStick's side that needs its own AC power adapter. And, conveniently, audio output is handled through the combined mic/headphone jack.
Two USB ports — one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0 — mean both a keyboard and mouse can be connected separately, or external storage can be used to supplement the VivoStick's internal 32GB capacity. There's only a single variant with an Intel Atom Z8350 system-on-chip and 2GB of RAM, but even that is significantly more powerful than the last-generation Compute Stick — at least until Core M-powered Windows-on-a-stick devices come out later this year.
With Windows 10 running on every VivoStick sold, this is probably one of the cheapest Windows 10 devices you can buy. Asus improves the experience with a few of its own apps, including VivoRemote, which functions as a rudimentary keyboard or mouse via a companion app on your smartphone. The VivoStick TS10 is out in Australia now, and will set you back around $249 — although we've already seen it a little cheaper than that RRP at a few online retailers. [Asus]