The PC on a stick or stick PC isn’t anything new. The concept was actually introduced nearly two decades ago when Gumstix launched the first stick PC in 2003. The idea is simple. You have a tiny, pocket-sized dongle that has just enough RAM and storage to run an OS. You can take it wherever you go and it plugs directly into your monitor, TV, or kiosk display. Over the years, the stick PC has even evolved into platform-specific devices such as the Chromecast, ROKU, and Amazon Fire Sticks. In 2016, Intel took things to an entirely new level by introducing a Core m powered dongle dubbed the Compute Stick but somewhere in between all of these variations, ASUS launched the one and only Chrome OS-powered stick PC.
The ASUS Chromebit is a minimalist device for sure but what it lacks in power it makes up for in heart. The stick PC features the same Rockchip processor found in ASUS’ original Chromebook Flip C100 and that’s matched to 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. While these specs won’t win any benchmark competitions, the 5″ Chrome OS dongle will get along well enough to handle casual web browsing and it makes a great media streamer with FHD output capabilities. The ASUS Chromebit found massive popularity with business as a standalone kiosk device that can easily be plugged into any display with an HDMI port. When managed, the Chromebit can be locked down and run a wide variety of kiosk applications for use in retail and other public venues.
At launch, the ASUS Chromebit retailed for $85 but the fact that no other company has released a Chrome OS stick PC has driven online listings up to nearly $180 in some cases. This is due, in part, to the limited supply and the Chromebit’s popularity as a kiosk PC. That said, Amazon is selling brand new ASUS Chromebits for only $69 at the moment but before you go grab one, here are a couple of disclaimers. First, this device was launched nearly five years ago. It is very underpowered in comparison to today’s Chrome OS devices. Don’t expect to buy one of these and use it as a daily productivity device. Second and probably most important, the AUE date of the ASUS Chromebit is November of 2020. That means in just over five months, it will likely stop receiving updates from Google. That doesn’t mean it won’t work. It simply means that it won’t get the latest versions of Chrome OS and that can be a security risk in the long term.
All that aside, the Chromebit is an ingenious little piece of hardware and for now, it’s the only device of its kind. Buying one of these would almost be like buying a piece of history. If you’re new to Chrome OS, this would definitely be an inexpensive way to give it a try. All you need is your TV and an external keyboard and mouse to pair with the Chromebit. Additionally, there’s always the change you could install something like Neverware’s CloudReady on it and get some extra life out of it. We have one on the way and I’m going to attempt to get CloudReady up and running on it. Stay tuned to see how it turns out. If you’re in the market for a Chromebit, you can find this deal by heading over to the Chrome Shop at the link below.