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Tech: These devices can make your TV smarter

If you have been eyeing those smart TVs in the market, perhaps you should pause and read about the iBall Splendo and Panache Air PC, based on Intel’s Compute Stick platform

  In the 1960s, David Moore, founder of Intel, observed how engineers were able to double the number of transistors in an integrated circuit every two years. This observation, later referred to as Moore’s Law, may not hold true with respect to the time taken to bring these small transistors into the market. However, Moore’s Law has made it possible to shrink your desktop into a tiny pluggable device that weighs just 45 grams and is slightly bigger than a USB data card.

Panache Air PC
(Left) Panache Air PC and (right) iBall’s Splendo presents the functionalities of a desktop PC in a portable stick

Two such devices, based on Intel’s Compute Stick platform or PC-on-Stick, are now available in the Indian market — iBall’s Splendo and Panache Air PC. Both devices feature the same hardware specs and look similar as well, apart from their label tags.

What we like
The Intel Compute Stick packs an Intel Atom quad core processor, Z3735F, clocked at 1.33GHZ and the RAM stands at 2GB. It gets Intel HD Graphics (311Mhz-646MHz) embedded on it, is capable of playing 1080p videos and should play 3D content as well. Though we didn’t test any 3D content due to lack of a 3D-enabled TV, we were satisfied with playback of 1080p videos.

There was no lag or motion jitters. The device gets Wi-Fi receptor (b/g/n) built into it, and supports Bluetooth 4.0. It gets a USB 2.0 and a micro USB port to connect external gadgets (such as hard disks, wireless mouse and keyboard or a Windows remote controller) and micro USB for power input. There’s a built-in power button as well.

Both the devices get a micro SD slot, however, while iBall Splendo supports up to 64GB, Panache Air PC can support up to 128GB. The Splendo is available only in a 32GB model, whereas Panache offers both 16GB and 32GB models. Both come with a tiny HDMI extension chord, a USB charger (detachable in iBall Splendo), and USB converter chord (to connect USB devices to the Micro USB port).

What they can do
Both devices bring the functionalities of a desktop PC on to your TV or any display device that comes with an HDMI input. You can use it to browse the Web, watch YouTube videos, play movies, download your favourite movies and TV shows, edit documents, read and reply to emails as well as Skype video chat on your TV by connecting a webcam/your phone's camera to the device, or install a BitTorrent client to download and share files with your peers with very little consumption of power. You can also install media centre apps like Kodi (earlier XBMC) to set up your personal media library.

Panache Air PC vs iBall Splendo
Our final question: Which is better? There isn’t much difference between both devices in terms of hardware, except that Panache Air PC costs a bit more than the iBall Splendo. While the Splendo comes for R9,999 for the 32GB model, the Panache Air PC costs Rs 10,999 for 32GB model. Besides, the Splendo comes with a free wireless mouse and keyboard, while the Air PC offers no freebies. However, Panache offers a 1-year replacement warranty, which is not available with iBall.

And the winner is...
Though the Panache Air PC costs Rs 1,000 extra, it is a better choice, simply because of the one-year replacement warranty. There’s more: the Panache Air PC also comes pre-installed with Windows 10 OS, whereas the iBall Splendo is propped with Windows 8.1 OS. Though, the Splendo is upgradeable to Windows 10, it would require you to first upgrade to the latest version of the Windows 8.1 (nearly 700MB download), and then to Windows 10 (above 2GB download). We aren’t sure how many users would be comfortable with this. Besides, while a free wireless keyboard and mouse sounds tempting, the freebies were of poor quality. We would rather have iBall slash the prices a bit than force us to take home a low quality keyboard or mouse.

Don’t miss: Read how to set up a personal media centre using Kodi app on either the Panache Air PC or iBall Splendo on the Web.
Log on to: www.mid-day.com. Available on Snapdeal.com and Amazon.in
Price: Rs 9,999 (Splendo), Rs 10,999 (Air PC)

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