At IFA 2015, Asus is announcing their first PC in the 'compute stick' form factor, the VivoStick PC. As a recap, the Compute Stick form factor is the x86 version of the popular ARM-based HDMI sticks. The first generation x86 Compute Stick came from Intel and used a Bay Trail-T SoC. Despite looking like an oversized thumb drive, the unit was actively cooled.

Asus's first foray into this form factor comes with the 14nm Cherry Trail platform. Unlike Intel's Compute Stick, the Asus VivoStick appears to have a good industrial design. The main differences between the Bay Trail-T Compute Stick that we have already reviewed and the VivoStick PC being announced today are:

  • Removal of microSD slot
  • Windows 10 Home instead of Windows 8.1 with Bing
  • eMCP (multi-chip package) integrating 2 GB of DDR3L and 32 GB of flash memory in a single package, thereby reducing the board area
  • 1x USB 3.0 port

The other aspects include availability of a 802.11 b/g/n and BT 4.0 chip for communications. The 138mm x 15mm x 14mm package weighs 70g. The VivoStick also comes in multiple colours. Asus is yet to decide whether to actively cool the device or not.

Asus did not announce any availability dates, but did indicate that the units are expected to have a MSRP of $129. As I have mentioned in multiple reviews, 32GB of primary storage is hardly enough after a couple of major updates. Due to this, the Compute Stick form factor is difficult to recommend as a general PC. However, its sleek and unobtrusive nature as well as low power requirements make it ideal for single purpose computers such as those used in kiosks and other such embedded / industrial applications.

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  • yannigr2 - Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - link

    Cherry Fail. But I have to give ASUS credit for the design. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - link

    It's a much nicer looking design that I would hope doesn't require active cooling. I have a sneaking suspicion that it'll require a fan though which strikes me as not very elegant, but probably unavoidable because of the size. Like a lot of other people, I'm disappointed by the 32GB of local storage and that alone would prevent me from even thinking about purchasing one. While it might do as a purpose-limited streaming device, I'm always a little reluctant to buy something that isn't able to adequately act as a one and only PC (which is totally unreasonable given the number of working laptops I have laying around that I could use instead). The unfortunate part is that the storage capacity is really the only glaring hurdle in the way of a compute stick-like system from being someone's one and only desktop PC as long as their expectations of performance are pretty modest. Reply
  • marc1000 - Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - link

    where on earth will they fit a fan to this??? about the storage, this is not meant to be a primary computer, and with cloud storage I really think 32gb should be "just enough". also, please use a BT keyboard/mouse with it, there is no sense attaching cables to it.

    my only concerd would be the power source. if it uses a micro-usb for power then it means that this thing can work with 5V and 0.5A only? that would be awesome, just plug it directly to your TV like the ChromeCast dongle. but if it requires a power brick it loses some potential.
    Reply
  • VC_89 - Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - link

    It must be requiring atleast 2A at 5V Reply
  • marc1000 - Thursday, September 3, 2015 - link

    if this is real, it is a shame. i can see a great value in plugging this at the back of a simple monitor or TV powered only by the existing USB port. Reply
  • Pissedoffyouth - Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - link

    Maybe it's time to make HDMI 2.2 or something provide 25w power or something Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - link

    I can see the motivation for making this stick small and elegant, but dropping the SD card slot? This will drive many potential customers away. Maybe there'll be a "VivoStick XL" soon? Reply
  • unialie - Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - link

    Any news if the new cherry trail sticks will have 32bit EFI like the bay trail ones? Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, September 4, 2015 - link

    The only use I can see with 32GB is carrying as a portable, security-conscious computing terminal (e.g., running "Tails" on it or somewsuch). That's assuming such an OS will support the hardware.

    Removal of the MicroSD slot is a big deal in this case. I'd like to see someone make a slightly bigger ComputeStick that could slot in one's own M.2 SSD after the fact. That would take care of the issue.
    Reply
  • MarcusSt - Friday, October 23, 2015 - link

    It's awesome media player though... I have a Tronsmart NUC based on similar H/W and it's great behind the TV. It plays most common codec in HW including hevc (h265) 8bit and does very well with 10-bti in software too. But NUC form factor isn't as unobtrusive as the stick which is what appeals about the Vivostick...

    There's some variation though in the various offerings coming soon. I found this
    Indiegogo project with a similar stick that seems to have better specs called Magic Stick (not massively enthusiastic about the name):

    Key bits: Cherry Trail Z8700 + 8GB Ram + 64GB MMC + USB 3.1 and 2 USB 3... starts at 99 for a lower spec one up to 250 for the top end... there's more about it here: http://igg.me/at/magicstick/x/1979944 I don't think it's a stretch to think they'll actually ship because it's really incremental improvements on the reference design rather than any ground breaking R&D...
    Reply

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