We ask our Retail Advisory Board for their thoughts on mini PCs

PCs on a stick: Fantastic selling opportunity or a fad?

We ask the PCR Retail Advisory Board what they think of the new wave of mini PC on a stick devices.

Craig Hume, Director, Utopia Computers

”We started selling Hannspree’s Micro-PC a few weeks ago. While initially we thought interest would be limited, we have found them not only to be a great conversation starter in our retail store, but they are also selling far better than expected. We have clients using them for all sorts, including digital signage in cafes. I think as long as the technology progresses, which it always does, we will be selling devices like this for the foreseeable future. My main take away for products like this is for retailers not to think if they would want to sell them, but to ask themselves would their customers be interested in them? It’s all too easy for retailers to write off products like this and miss big sales opportunities.”

CK, MD, YoYoTech

”In our market, without doubt, the mini PC will be a fad – and probably not a popular one. It seems clear that TVs in the future will have more and more processing power built in – so where would the need for a stick come from?

“In developing countries, then the possibilities and potential is different. It’s easy to conceive of a booming economy across the third world where each child has something like a ‘PC on a stick’ which they can take to the local school or post office, plug it into a screen, and suddenly have access to their school books, work and other resources. Here in the UK, we live in a world where the average household income is just over £38,000 and even teenagers have mobile phone bills that are regularly up to £300 a year. Against that backdrop, where’s the long-term need for a portable computer like this?”

Mike Barron, UK Channel Director, Synaxon

”It is an area that we are keeping a close eye on; we have created a new category within our reporting tool to monitor the uptake from our resellers. At this stage I can’t see any benefit, I can’t see how I would have a need for one either for business or personal use, but I’m happy to be told otherwise!”

Ben Miles, Buyer, Chillblast

”Compact PCs are a growing source of revenue for Chillblast. Everything from Mini ITX gaming systems to the much smaller NUC and Gigabyte Brix “palm-sized” systems are selling well. Motherboards are cramming in more and more functionality onto the PCB itself rather than relying on add-in slots, meaning very few customers end up needing the expansion capabilities of the traditional ATX motherboard. These smaller form factors are particularly handy for users who lack the space for a dedicated home office, as the systems can discretely sit to the side (or in some cases mount to the back of) the monitor. We’ve been pioneering small form factors for many years, ever since the first shuttle bare bone systems, so we certainly know the category is going from strength to strength.”

David Chorlton, Product Manager, Maplin

”Maplin sell both the Intel NUC and Gigabyte Brix currently in store. We think the PC on a stick concept is an interesting initiative and is something we are working in partnership with Intel on.”

Iain Shaw, Divisonal Director, Brigantia

”Brigantia is working closely with our German distribution partner Wortmann AG to bring their Terra Computer range of Intel-based NUCs and mini PCs to the UK channel. Brigantia partner resellers are impressed with the Intel Compute Stick and a Terra version should be available to promote to end users in the second half of 2015. 

“Brigantia head office has been using Terra Intel NUCs running Windows 8.1 Pro for over a year and the management team are very impressed with these units that bolt on the back of any Terra monitor. As a solution they free up space and remove messy wiring. Monthly purchasing reports from Wortmann indicate that Brigantia reseller partners are also doing well with both Terra Intel NUCs and other Terra mini PCs. Volumes are growing month on month as end users adopt this smaller form of workstation. That said, the mini PC is not replacing the desktop, but rather complementing it, in much the same way the tablet has not replaced the laptop.”

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