The premise of the Intel Compute Stick is that it can turn any display with an HDMI port into a fully-functioning Windows or Linux PC. Although the thumb PC is not expected to be lightning fast, users will still be able to play games, watch videos and carry out productivity tasks, much like they can with a basic laptop or tablet.

Intel Compute Stick With Windows 8.1 On Sale For $149

Intel Windows 8.1 compute stick: Turn a monitor into a Windows PC

In order to use the Compute Stick, just plug it into a TV or monitor. The tiny package makes it a great option for people who require a lightweight, portable PC, but functionality will be greatly improved with the addition of a keyboard and mouse.

Intel will release the Windows 8.1 Computer Stick first, and it will carry a price tag of $149. Starting from this summer, a stick running Ubuntu Linux will be available for $110. If you are interested in getting your hands on a Compute Stick, Intel advises that you keep your eye on Amazon, Best Buy and Newegg sites.

Intel specifies that storage capabilities will differ depending on the operating system. The Windows version will boast 32GB of eMMC storage, and 2GB of memory, while the Linux model will have 8GB of storage and 1GB of memory.

Increasingly competitive market

Other specs include the quad-core Intel Atom Z3735F with base clock speed of 1.33GHz, a USB 2.0 port, a micro-SD slot, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

The market for thumb-sized PCs has grown more competitive with the introduction of Google’s Chromebit, which is capable of turning HDMI-ready displays into a Chrome PC. Other thumb PCs run on Android or various versions of Linux, including Dell’s Cloud Connect, an Android system which sells for $129. It has more in common with a smartphone than a PC, making heavy use of online applications, storage and streaming services.

Intel’s Compute Stick increases the functionality of thumb PCs by providing a Windows option, which could end up being particularly useful in those areas where wireless access is limited or spotty.