Computers that fit in the palm of your hand

It was once predicted by the famous, but fictional Simpson’s character, Professor Frink “…that within 100 years, computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings of Europe will own them.” Of course that is not true today (thank goodness) since computers have gotten smaller but also 100 times more powerful than even predicted. Computers will become something in the future where we will start interacting with them in the air and all around us.

The power of computers has shown that they will only continue to grow more non-existent (even though they will still be there), more powerful, and can perform more actions than ever imagined. The rise of wearables has given rise to the idea that computers do not need to be bulky or heavy to carry around now that we have cloud computing to handle all the processing power but also the storage capabilities. What Professor Frink talked about was no different than the man he was misquoted from, Thomas J. Watson, had in mind when computers were coming about. There was this false understanding that in order for computers to be able to do more they needed to take up more space in order to process more information since they figured sized influenced speed, much like, the bigger the better, right? If that was true than it reasoned that only the wealthiest people would be able to afford them and if that turned out to be true than progress in computer science would have died off if only the rich could afford them.

Luckily that did not happen and computers went in the opposite direction and are getting more affordable than ten years ago. In the case of size now, we have more capabilities in the palm of our hands than was ever imagined. I can load up a usb now with hundreds, if not, thousands of apps that I can use to manage everything from. The idea of having to carry something like that around sounds cool and all but now that cloud computing is free and available to anyone with an internet connection having to carry anything around seems a little outdated, and to be frank, annoying.

The use of USB sticks will still be needed in order to keep things backed up and protected if you don’t want to store your information on a cloud server, where you have no idea who will have access to that information or what they do with it. This is why they are still popular and in use by millions, if not billions. the great thing about USB sticks (or flash drives, pen drives, or memory sticks, however people refer to them) is that the size keeps increasing allowing anyone with a creative mind to load them up with some cool things, like say an operating system. This is exactly what Google and Intel have done with their new USB sticks.

Take Your Computer Station with You Anywhere
Imagine that you walk into a public library and you sit down to use the computer there. It doesn’t have what you need to do your work so you are limited to what you will be able to accomplish. Now imagine you walk into the same place but instead of using their computer station you can just plug your USB device into the monitor and turn it into a workstation right away with everything that you need. This will change how people use and work with computers.

The idea behind this new idea is to change how information is used and how programs are made. It is no longer the case that you go to the store to buy a physical item anymore because companies have learned that they can make more money off of subscriptions to use their products than a one-time purchase deal. This is the case now with many services that people use daily like, Netflix, Office 365, Hulu, and even Amazon Prime. Unless you are someone that needs the horsepower of what a desktop is still able to provide, using Cloud-based services will be enough for you to get all your work done. Intel was the first to create their own USB stick as well.

The efficiency in this model will be that monitors and wi-fi connections will become more valuable, if the world doesn’t completely get replaced with Hololens and virtual eyewear. Imagine for a minute that you can take a portable monitor with you anywhere you go and “plug-in” your “computer” into the monitor and then use one of these virtual keyboards to do your work with. This will change how people work but also how people access the internet to find the things they need in order to get work done.

USB Chromebit Details
2GB of RAM
Rockchip’s 3288 processor
16GB of storage
2 ports: one HDMI and one USB
Bluetooth Connectivity

Intel USB Stick
Two OS Options:Linux or Windows 8.1
quad-core Atom Z3735F processo
Linux comes with 1GB Ram/16GB Storage
Windows comes with 2GB Ram/32GB Storage
HDMI port
Micro-USB port
Bluetooth connectivity

Portable Computing with Cloud-Computing
Cloud based services are taking over everywhere. It seems like every new service that comes out they offer cloud services so you do not have to worry about your stuff. The idea of having to carry anything around with you seems almost 2005. Why carry USBs with you when you can just access your Google drive or Microsoft OneDrive from any device and see your files? Now it even seem like having a USB in your hand is pointless when you think about it. Pretty soon instead of owning a physical computer, like a Mac or PC, you will just “log-in” to your Mac or PC desktop and work from any monitor.

Think about that idea for just a minute and you begin to realize how realistic it all sounds. It would be very easy for Apple, Microsoft, and Google to make that all happen. It would be like logging in to a remote desktop which would then access your account (subscription account that is) and then give you a desktop that comes with all the programs you requested. So instead of paying $500 for a decent PC computer and a couple of hundred bucks on software to load it with, you could instead pay $50 a month for the desktop service and  an additional $5 or $10 dollars for each program you want added.

Lets say you make movies and you need the latest software and there are only three major programs you need in addition to a workstation. Mac computers are great for making movies so Apple could charge $60 a month, then you need FinalCut so that is an additional $10 and then you need FinalDraft, which is another $10 dollars so in total you would pay around $90 a month (tax included) for everything you need, knowing full well that you will never lose a file or project because it is all stored on the cloud. If you are working and you suddenly lose power you won’t have to worry if you lost your work because the only thing that happened was you lost the power to the monitor but the servers that manage your workstation won’t be affected.

That would change how people work from all over the world. Internet cafes will become a booming business for travelers but even more so with virtual eyewear when you can access your cloud-based workstation from anywhere in the world. The concept of physical computer systems, like desktops and tablets, and even phones in our hands will soon start to disappear because it makes no sense to carry any of that around with us, which all have the potential of breaking if they are dropped (and boy do people love dropping them, especially in toilets).

Computers are getting smaller but their power and capabilities are getting bigger.  We have chips and even nanobots that are smaller than our fingernails now so it is only a matter of time before Hololens becomes a full blown reality and people are accessing their stuff in the air and interacting with it like they would a person.

Subscription Based Business Models
The USB sticks come from the success of how well the Chromebooks have done in the market. Many school districts have invested heavily in ordering them because they require no installing of software and everything is online. The only down side to owning a chromebook is that they do not work if there is no internet connection so that means schools have to invest more money in making sure their wi-fi systems can handle heave traffic, which is not cheap at any rate.

The computer sticks are a one time purchase price so you will be able to do what you need to with Android operating system but you will need internet access, which the USB sticks also come with, so that way they can connect to the internet. In any case you will still be able to do all that you need to online in just in more efficient way now.

Over time though as more people start to use these little devices it will make sense for Google to charge for certain things but it only makes sense that this will be the last time before switching over to a completely cloud-based workstation environment at which point companies like, Google and Microsoft, will start to impose a subscription based model of payment. The cost of printing CDs can be eliminated completely while increasing revenue because consumers won’t even need to install anything, they can just access a special website that will turn their monitor/tablet into the desktop of their dreams. If they want more ram they can pay for it, if they need more drive space they can pay for it, and so on.

This new business model of providing services to customers while dramatically reducing costs will not only appeal to companies but people will love it as well because they do not need to worry about how to set it up and anytime something goes wrong, they do not have to run a utility program to fix it because the companies will be monitoring this stuff all the time. No one has to worry about dealing with viruses anymore because it is up to the company to provide the service at no additional charge (this is because they need to keep their system virus free in order to ensure their uptime is 24/7).

Privacy Issues
The saying goes, “if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” The same goes for this. For anyone reading this article and saying to themselves, “but what about privacy issues if the only time you can access your computer is by paying for the service, what happens if you can’t pay anymore?” This is a very reasonable concern and why people still want to have a physical computer in their home that they can touch. This is why the whole idea of cloud-based computers will only be for people who truly embrace the future of where computers are going. People who love their privacy and don’t want to share the files they are working on with anyone will never want to use a subscription based model because not everyone has the money to do that plus they don’t want others knowing what they are doing.

The cost of buying a computer in general is hard for a lot of people so paying $700 is still high for many, so asking people to paying a monthly bill, added on top of their other bills, might be asking too much from them (regardless of whether or not people are making more money than 10 or 15 years). The other issue that will stop people in their tracks about switching over is that companies like Google have very clear wording in their Terms and Services and Privacy statements that say if you use any of their services you are giving them the right to search your stuff in order to create custom advertisements. Bottom line – you have no privacy when using Google’s services, all in the name of trying to sell you more stuff. Watch this movie to find out, Terms and Conditions May Apply.

I would love to be able to sign in and access all the programs I need but I also do enjoy my privacy when doing my work. In a world now where companies are hacked everyday for their sensitive files, it will no longer be the case that SSN numbers matter but instead that letter you wrote on your computer that explained a plan you had been thinking about for awhile but you wanted no one else to know about. That information is just as damaging as having your bank records stolen.

Now the matter becomes, when companies finally switch over to offering such a service, what guarantees do they have of protecting our personal files and not snooping? The answer currently is none and when it all comes down to providing a service, cloud-based like, it will be hard for any company to want to respect that when they know they could make money off that sensitive information but, hey, if Facebook can get away with selling people’s private information and people are ok with it then I guess it’s not such a big problem. I, for one, do think it is so for the company that does offer the service and respects people’s privacy, they will probably be the one to come out in the end.


Both USB sticks won’t be available until the summer.

News Articles

Intel Compute Stick Page

Intel Computer Stick vs. Asus Chromebit

Google’s Chromebit Turns Any TV Into a Chrome PC for Under $100

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