It is predicted that so-called stick PCs could be the future in the computer world. Stick PCs like that Asus VivoStick turns any TV or HDMI-equipped display into an all-in-one desktop PC, it is built just like a normal flash drive. That’s a match made in heaven if you need to run Windows-only programs on a big screen, or you’d rather use a PC to stream your movies and music. Apart from the closest you can get to a mobile PC with the Microsoft Surface family, the stick PCs is also one of the easiest ways to carry a PC along with you whenever you go, and it’s even smaller and lighter than your iPhone 7 Plus. Being one of the latest compact PCs, the VivoStick is designed to give the Intel Compute Stick a run for its money, barring a flaw or two, one of the better ones, to boot.
Design & Features
Similar to most stick PCs, the Asus VivoStick is compact and pocket-size. Measuring a scant 0.65 by 1.42 by 5.31 inches (HWD), and weighs a featherweight of just 2.72 ounces. From a glance, the VivoStick looks like an oversize USB memory stick, nut with a wider HDMI plug on the end. A cap is provided to cover the HDMI connector whenever you are. This stick PC is a good way to keep yourself entertained if you are always on the road – travelling. Just plug it in into your hotel room’s TV or a display in your office and you’ll be connected in no time. You can also use a third-party compact wireless touchpad/keyboard combo or leverage on the free Asus VivoRemote app on your smartphone to control it.
You might think that connectivity on a little USB stick would be close to none. But on the VivoStick, connectivity is limited but it ain’t ad though. The system is built with a micro USB port for power, along with a headset jack, a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 port. The headset jack is always a welcoming sight just in case your HDMI display lacks speakers or you can just hook it up with an external speaker or headphones. The USB 3.0 port doubles the connectivity compared to previous models while the extra USB 2.0 allows connection to a mouse and keyboard simultaneously using the VivoStick’s Bluetooth 4.1 capability. The wireless connections to the Internet are handled by a 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
The one major letdown is the absence of a microSD card slot which would help a lot to expand the system’s miserly 32GB of eMMC flash storage. Upon hooking up the VivoStick to a display, all we get was 15GB of free space, barely enough for a few installed programs and just maybe, one movie download.
Instead of carrying around a wireless/traditional keyboard and mouse everytime you move around, you have the option of using the Asus VivoRemote app, available on both Android and iOS devices. The app has two modes where it turns your phone’s touch screen into a touchpad, coupled with left and right mouse buttons on one hand and mimics a controller for multimedia apps, which includes a four-way cursor controller on the other. Typing with the touchscreen might be a little odd to some since, there’s no keyboard mode. Instead, you are given a text entry box on the touchpad screen, which you can type your text and then hit Send to send the text to your VivoStick. Albeit it works fine for entering text in a browser address bar, you’ll have a tough time if your work involves work processing.
Asus has included a HyStream app where you can stream videos and musics from your mobile devices to the VivoStick and put them on display on your HDTV. You’ll get 2GB of memory on the VivoStick, which is enough to run a browser and messaging client at a same time, though it would be a much tougher task for app multitasking. Slowdowns start to emerged with more than six browser tabs open with four of it streaming videos and musics. Nonetheless, the VivoStick still handles your daily web browsing perfectly fine. although there are more choices out there. The system is bundled with a mounting bracket to allow you to stick it behind your HDMI display and keep it out of sight and way. You’ll get a year of warranty.
On the inside, the Asus VivoStick is fueled by an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor with Intel HD Graphics, which is more than capable of day-to-day performance. This can be seen in its above-average score on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test of 1,363. On the HandBrake test, the VivoStick scored a 7:22 which was above average, but in the CineBench score of 99 and Photoshop time of 19:27, the results are far from satisfying. Expect a long sitting around to finish tasks. It’s actually surprising that the system was able to complete the CineBench and Photoshop tests at all. This is mainly due to its 64-bit Windows 10 version, since most stick PCs use the less-capable 32-bit. On its 3D performance, it falls way down, clocking only single digit frame rates on 3D games like Minecraft or Diablo III. Less demanding 2D games like Angry Bird are your better bet if you are still looking to spend some time.
Apart from mini laptops such as the MacBook Air and other 11-inches laptops, stick PCs are the most portable you’ll find now in the market. There’s no easier way or place to carry, literally a PC in your pocket. And with its concept just like a flash drive, plugging it into a HDMI display which will turn it into a large all-in-one PC is very neat. Rather than labeling the Asus VivoStick as a useful carry around device, it makes much more sense as a travel companion than as a full-time PC due to its limited capability and features. That being said, there are of course better alternatives from the VivoStick. Even so, the Asus VivoStick is a great option to opt out from carrying around your laptop. Also, if you are curios and want to explore the burgeoning experiment known as stick PCs, the Asus VivoStick wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Check it out below.
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