Intel made splashes in the personal computing industry with its announcement of the Compute Stick; an HDMI dongle that can basically turn any modern monitor (or TV) into a fully equipped computer. When the product was announced a while back, it wasn’t clear when it will become available. Well, now it’s available for pre-order, from a couple of reputable online retailers, albeit with a catch.

To give you some context, Intel announced two versions of the Compute Stick; one with full blown Windows 8.1 as its onboard operating system, while the other one came with Linux and a reduced price. Amazon has both of them listed right now for pre-order, with an in-stock date of May 6th. If you order right now, the Windows version of the Compute Stick will set you back by $180 plus shipping, which is $30 more than Intel’s retail price. The Linux version will make an even bigger dent in your budget (when compared to the device’s actual retail price), because Amazon has it listed for $130 plus shipping, as opposed to the suggested retail price of $89. If you think that’s unfair, that’s the case with early adopters for many tech gadgets these days.

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Another retailer, Newegg, has listed only the Windows version of the Compute Stick for $150 (no premium here), but the caveat is the fact that they have no estimated delivery date declared. Kind of a bummer, really.

Intel’s move into the dongle-PC space spells great news for tech enthusiasts the world over, especially considering the price point and the capabilities of the device. For $150, you get a computer which you can freely use with a display as large as your monitor or TV, and decent specs for everyday tasks, including a quad-core Intel Atom processor, 2GB of memory, 32GB of storage, expandable through a microSD slot and a full-sized USB 2.0 port. Connectivity includes 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 for peripheral and HID connections, and, naturally, an HDMI port. With the Windows version, you get full Windows 8.1, too, resulting in a configuration that should suffice for most people’s needs.

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A computer on a dongle is something that is slowly gaining traction in the market, and only recently, we saw Google announcing Chromebit, which ships in summer, and just like the Intel’s Compute Stick, turns any HDMI capable display into a computer. We’re pretty certain that other manufacturers would join the fray and we’ll end up seeing more innovation in this arena.

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