I’m a big fan emerging technology.  If you could have seen me when the Apple iPhone dropped you’d understand.  They’re not just gadgets to me: they’re the fulfillment of lifelong ideas about what we might be able to do with technology at the right size and the right price point.

For example, when the iPhone first started allowing you to install apps the first thing that I did was look for an RDP Remote Desktop app.  At the time I was running our network by myself and (largely due to the fact that I am only a self trained IT person) there were some common issues that plagued our network.  Having remote access from my phone meant that I could both travel and manage our issues without having to carry a laptop all the time or borrow someone’s computer.

Since those times I have professionals that manage our network, but I haven’t given up the fascination with gadgets.  One of my favorite gadgets for the last several years has been the Raspberry Pi.  This little Linux PC costs a whopping $35 for the barebones unit, and just over $75 for a complete kit which has enabled us to take on several projects at very little cost.  We’ve built intelligent displays in the laboratory to keep people up to date, and I’ve even experimented with running stand-alone web servers for smaller internal applications to keep them off of the production servers.

Recently I noticed that the little Pi (as great as it is) has trouble keeping up with certain tasks.  I started looking at other solutions when I realized that I had missed the latest update of the Intel Compute Stick.  The earliest version of this device did not receive such great reviews from tech enthusiasts, but the newer Intel Compute Stick CS125 has a low enough price point at around $125 that I’m able to consider it a viable alternative to the RPi.

Obviously the Compute Stick is not as “project friendly” as the RPi, but for established applications like Dashboards and Heads Up Displays for production areas it brings a considerably more stable platform to the table.  My personal tests found that for “always on” applications like dashboards I had about 7x more uptime without errors.

When you search YouTube for “raspberry pi projects” you get all kinds of results. Not so for the Compute Stick.  For the small business owner you shouldn’t think twice though: beyond their small size and small pricetag you get a decently responsive device with more than enough punch for basic office work or to seamlessly turn a large TV/display in to a functioning PC for web-conferencing without having to drop serious dollars on a machine that stands still most of the time.  There’s even a version of the device with an M3 Processor and more storage and RAM. Personally I think pairing the device with a low-cost touch screen display can create some seriously cool options for kiosks and workplace interfaces that don’t require a keyboard and/or mouse.

On a personal note I’m excited to try one of these for road trips with the kids.  I’ve previously built a PLEX Media Server for long road trips in the vehicle using an old laptop and a USB Powered Wireless Router from TP-Link.  My current vehicle has WiFi built in, so  my hope is that one of these devices running directly in to the media port will provide the kids with all kinds of awesomeness.

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