Using a HTPC (Home Theater PC) used to be the only way to go for Cordcutters. You’d have a PC hooked up to your TV and you could watch YouTube, run Kodi/XBMC, play games or do anything you wanted, really.
Cordcutting devices have become more specialised, and much more user friendly, but in some ways you lose out. Having a PC hooked up means there’s no service you can’t access – almost everything you’d want to watch either has a PC program or can be accessed through a browser. Its not as easy to use, but for power users it offers everything.
If you don’t want a bulky PC around your TV, but still want the full functionality that a PC offers, a Lenovo Ideacentre 300 Ultra Small PC Stick is a great option. It’s preloaded with Windows 10 and you can access tons of content.
The stick is small, just a little larger than a memory stick or pen drive. It is portable and is possible to carry it around if for some reason you need to take your media centre wherever you go! A good choice for holidays.
The device is very easy to install, particularly as almost everyone is familiar with Windows PCs – just stuck it in the back of the HDMI port on the back of the TV and power it up. There is a HDMI extension supplied if your TV is too close to the wall or at an awkward angle. As the device uses flash memory rather than a more traditional hard drive, boot time is much quicker than a normal PC or Laptop. To control the stick you can use a wired keyboard as the unit has one standard size USB or a Bluetooth keyboard. The Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 is out top recommendation for a wireless keyboard/touch-pad.
For watching content on webpages (YouTube or other streaming video) using the default Edge browser gave a much more satisfactory performance than Chrome, which is true of most under-powered Windows 10 Devices.
The Stick only comes with 32GB internal memory but you can use an SD card to add an additional 128GB of space, so storage of basic apps and games shouldn’t be an issue.
As well as watching TV shows and films, the Ideacentre 300 has just enough processing power to play some PC games, and it can run some emulators quite well.
One negative is that the Stick is still fan cooled and noise can be a little intrusive under high load – not ideal if you’re trying to watch a movie. The stick also cannot run video over 1080p and WiFi can be a little spotty, but it’s all totally useable and you shouldn’t have problems streaming content from Netflix etc.