Asus Chromebit CS10 Stick

From their inception, the Android PC Stick has been primarily the domain of the small, Asian manufacturer.  Because of the low price and thin profit margins, they just weren’t seen as an important product to Western marketers.  In the past couple of years, all that has changed.  Many of the major players in consumer electronics, including Microsoft, Dell, Amazon and even Google have gotten into the Stick PC market.

The Chromecast, Google’s first entry into the streaming market was a hybrid product that brought the company into the awareness of streaming media aficionados.   It’s been reported that Google sold upwards of 30 million of these devices after launch and was the most popular streaming device of 2014.    While the Chromecast was successful and functional, it didn’t meet the needs of the typical Stick buyer.

Google created the Chrome OS to allow them to diversify their product offerings into a number of areas, including laptops and desktops.   The Chromebit is the latest Google product to run it’s proprietary Chrome OS.   Working with sometimes partner ASUS, Google has crammed a slimmer version of it’s popular Chromebox into the PC Stick form factor.  While it’s not nearly as full-featured at the Chromebox, it contains many of the key features and serves the purpose for which it’s intended as a general web device and media player.

Sporting a list of notable features, the Chromebit includes the Quad Core RK 3288-C processor and Mali T624 GPU.   It also includes 2 GB of low power LPDDR3 memory and 16 GB of flash storage.  The dual-band, built-in WiFi supports all current standards and includes Bluetooth 4.0.  All of this is put together in a slim 4.8″ package that you can connect directly to your HDMI port.

What I like about the Chromebit

As my regular readers have discovered by now, I’m primarily a Linux user on the desktop, but have a weakness for all things Android.   Whenever possible, I prefer my devices to be open, or at least give me the option to alter them in ways that I want.  That’s what makes it hard for me to recommend a device that’s based on Chrome OS.  But bear with me.

The Chromebit is designed to meet the needs of two different markets.  On one hand, the Chrome OS and Google branded browser-based apps make it a good choice for someone who wants an inexpensive, convenient and easy way to access the web.  On the other hand, the process (and GPU) is optimal for streaming, making it a good choice as a media streamer and TV Stick.

If you add a good Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, connect the Chromebit to a decent sized monitor, you have a nice little web-enabled Stick Computer.  Or, pick up a good Bluetooth controller and simply connect it to your TV for High Definition media streaming.

Like it’s cousins the Chromebox and Chromebook, the Chromebit runs the Chrome OS, which is basically the Linux kernal with a Chrome browser as the primary user interface.  With the Chrome OS you mainly have access to web-based applications.  Since Chrome supports Netflix and other streaming services, this is not a problem for those using it as a media streamer.  The Mali T-624 is an excellent chip for streaming because it’s optimized for that type of content, rather than 3D and gaming.

For external connections to accessories such as keyboards a single USB port.  If you want to connect more than just a dongle or wired keyboard, you probably want to investigate getting a USB Hub.  There is little else in the way of connectivity for this device because power is connected via a standard power port, rather than USB.  I do miss the fact that it doesn’t have an SD slot, so in order to get more storage you’ll have to connect via the USB port or hub.

As I’ve mentioned several times, this is a ChromeOS device, rather than Android or Linux.  While that might be a deal killer for some, in my mind it doesn’t take away from the benefits of this Stick.  If you do need to add or upgrade the operating system, I’ve put a tip in the FAQ below to help you to do that.

Overall I would give the Chromebit 4 out of 5 stars due to some issues listed below in the  Pros and Cons section. For what it does, the Chromebit does a great job and as long as you know what you’re buying I think you’ll enjoy this product.

Company Product Information

Google is a world-wide company that focuses on Internet-related services and products, including advertising, search, operating system software, application software and hardware.  Google was founded in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and became a public company in 2004. They are based in Mountain View, California.  They have a reputation for excellent products and service.

ASUS is a Taiwanese company headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. Its manufactures and markets a variet of electronics products including PC Desktops, Laptops, Netbooks and other mobile devices and accessories. Asus is one of the world’s top 5 computer manufacturers.

In the summer of 2015 they began production of the quad core Mini PC known as the Chromebit.

 

What’s in the Box

  • Chromebit Stick PC with Rockchip 3288-C processor
  • Quick Start Guide
  • HDMI Extender Cable
  • 12v Power Adapter

Here’s a nice introduction video to give you an idea of what it looks like and what’s in the box.

Unboxing

Features, Specs and Tech Details

Quad Core Rockchip RK3288-C, Cortex-A17, running at 1.8Ghz
Quad-core ARM Mali-T624 GPU clocked at 600 MHz
2GB DDR3 RAM, 16 GB Internal Flash Storage
Built in Dual Band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi wireless network access
HDMI, USB and Power ports

Screen Resolution 1080p
Max Screen Resolution 1080P
RAM 2GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
Disk 16GB Flash
Graphics Quad Core Mali-T624
Wireless 802.11a,b,g,n,ac
Bluetooth 4.0
Number of USB Ports 1 Full Size
Dimensions 4 x .7 x 1.2 Inches
Weight ~ 2.7 oz
Color Black
Power 12v 1.5A 18w

Pros

  • Simple to use and operate
  • Browser based apps ready to use
  • Google/Asus quality and reliability
  • High Definition (1080p) with optimized Mali T-624
  • Easy Installation and Setup

Cons

  • Not a full Android Stick so limited to Chrome OS
  • Limited expansion with only one USB
  • No SD slot

 

Tips/FAQ

Linux
If you feel limited by the ChromeOS and want to give yourself full access to the workings of this Mini PC, there is a way to add Linux without endangering the viability of your device.   While I don’t endorse doing this if you’re unfamiliar with installing Linux, or upgrading Stick computers, for those who have a little more experience, this can prove to be a worthwhile addition to the Chromebit

Go here for more information on using Crouton to install Linux on your Chromebit.  A more step-by-step version for Chrome Books works just as well for your Chromebit.

Some customer reviews

Computer on a stick, plugged into my 65″ UHDTV works fine.

After an easy, almost self-explanatory setup, it has been very stable and reliable.

The Chromebit does everything it’s advertised to do, and quite well. If you’ve used a Chromebook or Chromebox before, you will feel right at home with a Chromebit

This is working great as an instant desktop. I hooked it into a cheap 32 inch hdtv and added a wireless keyboard/mouse combo.

Conclusion

While it works more than adequately as a TV/Media streamer, it really shines as a tiny desktop replacement for a variety of web based applications.  With the addition of mouse, keyboard and other peripherals, it can easily excel at these tasks.