PCR quizzes a number of mini PC developers to find out why this category is exploding

Who will win the battle of the mini PCs?

When thinking of an old traditional PC you tend to picture a bulky grey tower that takes up all of the leg space under your desk, buzzing away like a swarm of bees. This no longer has to be the case – a new breed of USB-sized PCs is surfacing to shake things up.

From Stone’s PC on a Stick, Dell’s Wyse Cloud Connect and Hannsprees’s Micro-PC to the Intel Compute Stick and the Ironkey Workspace, there are plenty of options for consumers wanting to downsize their tech set-up.

But why are these devices becoming so popular? Well, the smaller alternative to the desktop not only boasts a full PC experience but it is also cheaper, has lower power consumption, is portable and converts any HDMI display into a remote PC.

“Users can bring computing capability to a TV enabling smart multimedia functionality on the big Dell’s Wyse Cloud Connect and Hannspree’s Micro-PC are just two of the mini PC devices screen and can enjoy the full audio system of their TV for their portable device,” says Hannspree’s UK and Ireland territory manager Martin Kent.

These devices could be a godsend for people who work on the go, or regularly work from home. They’re also a great option for those who store all their data on the cloud, have small budgets or simply like their space.

Could the Micro-PC go the way of the tablet and become a hugely popular category in its own right? Possibly. But the big question is: Will these gadgets signal the end of the road for traditional desktop computers? Dell’s director of global field and channel marketing, David Angwin, thinks not.

“We believe that the day of the computer will not go away – there will always be a demand for a physical desktop or laptop in both the corporate and consumer space,” he tells PCR. 

Kent points out that each device, whether it’s a desktop or mini PC, has its own use depending on the individual’s specific requirements. He adds: “The main differentiator is computing power. Users with high computing requirements will stick to the traditional desktop concept. Only those with modest usage might consider a more portable and often cheaper device, but sooner or later most will revert back to using a desktop solution, ensuring its survival for more years to come.”

Stone’s group marketing director Daley Robinson comments: “The desktop will continue to evolve in parallel with technology, far from going away the desktop will continue to get better, smaller and greener.”

So what does the future hold for mini PCs? Robinson says: “We envisage the small or tiny PC will play a huge part in keeping users connected to their personal files and applications on the move as we become more mobile within enterprise, education, health and local government

“The devices will just keep getting smaller, offer better productivity and performance – all whilst consuming less energy.”

Mini PCs are coming at a time when wearables are set to take over the consumer tech shopping list and holograph technology is being introduced by the likes of Microsoft. But what really sets these little gems aside is their affordability.

Time will tell if they are to be the next game changer, but they do fill a gap in the market. Maybe it is not so much the case that mini PCs will replace rivals such as desktops and laptops, but could instead become essential companion devices to a business or home user’s main computer.

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