ComputerStick’s IndieGoGo is built on faked video and questionable claims

Update 8/13/2015 2:20PM : I have received an official response from the ComputerStick campaign. It acknowledges that the campaign video did not capture a ComputerStick in operation, but stands behind the campaign’s claims.

Last week a company going by the name of ComputerStick launched a IndieGoGo campaign for a miniature PC with a $30,000 flexible funding goal, which it quickly surpassed, earning  $152,000 at publication. That’s not unusual, as mini PC campaigns have become popular on all crowd-funding platforms. But this particular campaign represents everything wrong with crowd-funding today.

The campaign’s big, huge stinker is its video, which is outright dishonest. It shows people enjoying the ComputerStick in a variety of scenarios, including gaming. Here’s the issue; none of them actually show the ComputerStick in use.

While the video repeatedly shows the device being inserted into an HDMI port, the video captured is not from the device. This is obvious by the battery life indicator, which means the video shown is from a laptop. Suspiciously, the video also appears to show Windows 7, an operating system that hasn’t shipped on a Compute Stick and which the campaign itself does not claim to use (it says the device will ship with Windows 10).

Worse, the campaign says the device can be used to play games like MineCraft, World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. It suggests you can “host LAN parties at your house” using the device. To back that up, the company shows supposed gameplay of MineCraft and a first person shooter I’m not familiar with (Counter-Strike, perhaps?)

But the games aren’t being played on the Computer Stick – they’re simply YouTube videos. This is obvious because both supposed gameplay clips are watermarked by the people who produced them. The mark in the Minecraft video is too small to identify, but the shooter video is from IGN.

The ComputerStick’s general branding also raises an eyebrow. The campaign prominently claims its device is twice as quick as Intel’s Compute Stick, but that claim is based on the “latest Intel Cherry Trail Atom chipset” – which is not yet available in any stick PC form-factor.

You might think that means this campaign is debuting the Cherry Trail in a computer stick, but that’s not the case. In fact, the “twice as quick” claim only applies to the ComputerStick Pro – which won’t be available until the end of 2015. Coincidentally, that’s when other manufacturers like Asus are slated to launch their own Cherry Trail compute stick, and by then Intel may even have Skylake-based Compute Sticks with Core processors available.

If you want the ComputerStick now, you’ll end up with the current Bay Trail version, which is essentially identical to the standard Compute Stick. If there’s anything charitable that can be said about it, it’s that the price of $125 is cheaper than other outlets by a few bucks. It’s not the claimed savings of $50, though (a Compute Stick is $140 on Newegg) and backers have to pay for shipping, which is free through Amazon and Newegg.

The questionable claims don’t end there. The campaign’s IndieGoGo page has an interesting table that lists the possibilities of the ComputerStick compared to others, like Roku and Apple TV. This shows that the device, unlike others, lets users surf the web and play games. The only problem with the chart is that some competitors in fact do those things. Roku can be used to play games, and the Chromecast lets users cast their desktop to the TV (albeit as an experimental feature).

As you might expect, the vast majority of the ComputerStick’s backers have selected the ComputerStick Pro – that’s the version which is allegedly “twice as quick” as the current Compute Stick, and won’t be available until the end of 2015.

We received an official response from Jeffrey Maganis of ChargeTech, which acknowledges that the video did not show the actual compute stick because “The videographer found it cumbersome to have the ComputerStick plugged into the back of the TV with all of the wires hanging out. This was a decision only to make the shoot move along faster without any hiccups.” Maganis clarified that the device being offered by the ComputerStick campaign will be sold in custom casing built by a Chinese company. He also addressed the issue of gaming, stating that “The ComputerStick has indeed been tested to be used with Minecraft.”

It’s hard to say if the $175 price will or won’t be a good deal because we don’t know the price of any competing models that will be available by year’s end. If you want a Compute Stick now, you can buy from a manufacturer that currently offers it, though I recommend you read our review before you pull the trigger. I was not enamored with it.

Deals

Take $250 off the HP Spectre x360 laptop with this Presidents’ Day sale

If you're hoping for something more powerful that will last more than a few months, you'll probably need to invest $1,000 or more. Unless, of course, you take advantage of the Presidents' Sale on the HP Spectre x360 13t.
Home Theater

Everything to know about Sling TV: Channels, pricing, and more

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Computing

Think crypto’s dead? JPMorgan to offer first cryptocurrency backed by a U.S. bank

J.P. Morgan Chase is making history by rolling out a trial, over the next few months, of the first cryptocurrency, dubbed JPM Coin, which is backed by a large United States bank.
Computing

Opera web browser targets enhanced accessibility with major redesign

The browser wars are heating up. In the latest move for Opera, a new development release pushes it even closer to Chrome with a redesign and overall goal of redefining the modern web browser. 
Computing

Breaking: Amazon won’t build headquarters in New York in face of opposition

Amazon has canceled plans for a New York City headquarters afer citizens, civic groups, and politicians pushed back on Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's exclamation of economic joy over Amazon's earlier…
Computing

DLSS is finally arriving in games, but how does Nvidia's super-sampling actually work?

Nvidia's new DLSS technology is exciting, but what is it and how does it work? It's not quite anti-aliasing and it's not quite super sampling. It's a little bit of both and the end results can be impressive.
Computing

A new Mac Pro is supposedly coming in 2019, but what will it be like?

Our Mac Pro 2019 rumor roundup covers all the top news, leaks, and rumors about the new Mac Pro set to be announced sometime in 2019. Here's what Apple has said, what the experts think, and what's likely to show up with the new Mac Pro.
Gaming

Take to the virtual skies with these free flight simulators

You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.
Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Computing

Enjoy Windows on a Chromebook with these great tips and tricks

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only software.
Computing

Switch your WMA files for MP3s with our quick conversion tips

The WMA codec may be great when it comes to multi-channel surround sound, but unfortunately, it falters in terms of compatibility. Check out our guide on how to convert WMA files to MP3 via web-based or desktop methods.