One of the biggest IT trade shows in Asia is going on right now in Taipei in Taiwan and one of the products being shown is grabbing a lot of attention—the Quanta Compute Plug—a complete computer that is the size and shape of an AC adapter. Initial reports suggest its main purpose is to convert a flatscreen TV to a really “smart” TV.
Computers have been shrinking in size for many years, perhaps in reaction to the development of smartphones and tablet computers. Now, instead of taking up a desk, or serving as a portable device such as a laptop, computer makers are creating fully functional computers the size of thumb drives, or in this case, an AC adapter—complete with prongs. Of course it does not come with a hard drive, keyboard, mouse or screen, but some of those can be added because it does have two 3.0 USB ports and one HDMI port.
The Compute Plug was demonstrated at the show by Microsoft VP, Nick Parker while he was giving the keynote address. That was because the device runs Windows 10 (though which flavor is still not clear)—Parker showed how it can be used with Cortana and a Bluetooth headset allowing for hands free operation.
The idea behind such computers is apparently, to allow consumers to have multiple inexpensive computers in their home, each dedicated to certain specific tasks—tasks that typically cannot be done with a phone or tablet computer. The Compute Plug, for example, would allow for running full blown Word using a full sized keyboard, eliminating the need for lugging around a laptop, for students, or perhaps journalists. The downside to such a tiny computer, is of course, its low-power processor, hence its more dedicated use—not enough for massive gaming applications, but certainly enough to push 4K video to a screen. The Plug is not the first wall-plug computer, but it is the smallest thus far, and the first to run Windows.
Unfortunately, Parker did not give any specifics regarding when the little computer might be for sale, or how much it might cost. That presumably will come later from Quanta reps.