Some consumers don’t have a need to have a full-size PC in the house, or are looking to add PC functionality to a TV without the mess of having a PC or laptop nearby all the time with all of the cables running all over. Maybe Netflix and a few apps aren’t enough and you want a full desktop experience on the family TV. Now that technology has gotten so small in size, solutions are starting to pop up all over, allowing you to add a PC to your TV without the mess. One of these solutions, is the Quantum Access HDMI stick, which features a full Windows 10 experience while hiding behind your TV just like a Roku of a Fire TV stick.
It’s quite small in size at 4.94 x 1.54 x 0.72 inches.So it hides flat behind your TV as long as your TV has a side-firing HDMI input on the back–which most TVs within the last 5 or so years do. This allows you to still wall-mount your TV flat against the wall, in most cases without the Quantum Access causing any kind of space interference.
The only time you need to play with it, is to reach around to turn it on. There is no remote way of doing this, so you have to make sure that the button on the device is accessible (even if it is just finger-accessible and you know where to reach every time). We found this to be one of the only unfortunate features. Of course, since it comes with an adapter that is always plugged into the wall, you can always leave it on at all times as turning your TV on and off would be no different that turning a monitor on and off on a running PC. This way, not only do you not have to play with the button as often, but the stick is already booted and ready to go each time your turn your TV on (vs waiting for Windows to boot every time).
The Quantum Access is also great for traveling as figuring out what PC solution you want to take with you can be a debatable situation as you determine what type of luggage you want to take with you. Obviously you are not going to take a desktop PC with you, but should you bring a laptop or a tablet? If you want a bigger screen like a TV in a hotel room, now you have cables running all over and you need to be close to the TV with your device so that you can be in front of it to type. Or, you can bring the Access and a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse combo and you are done. You have a PC that can plug into the TV directly without any cables and you can sit anywhere in the room to control it–done.
It features a USB 2.0 port so that you can attach a wireless receiver for a keyboard/mouse solution. We didn’t have an all-in-one solution laying around anywhere that was available for use, so we decided to insert a USB 2.0 hub into the port instead to see if it would work. We then connected a small USB nano receiver for a small Logitech keyboard and a separate USB receiver for a small Logitech mouse. Both immediately began to work just as if the hub was plugged into any other PC setup. We then took it one step further by plugging in a USB thumbdrive into the hub and that was immediately accessible as well. So the on-board USB 2.0 port is fully functioning as you would hope.
It also has Bluetooth 4.0 built-in, so if you have a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse solution that doesn’t require a USB receiver (like those you would use on tablets and phones), they will function with the Quantum Access. This is very useful as it frees up your USB port for other purposes such as a thumb drive. Approaching things from this angle means no USB hub is ever needed. We would recommend going this route.
Right out of the box, we weren’t getting audio to the TV. Running “Windows Update” in the “Settings” window led to a driver update for Intel graphics support. Once the update was installed and Windows 10 was restarted, the TV appeared in the “Playback devices” screen under sound properties and everything worked just fine. It will only pass sound as stereo for whatever reason. In our tests, we attempted to play a demo video that has 5.1 dolby audio, and no sound made it to the TV. Also under sound properties, it shows as only supporting stereo output. So hopefully a driver update will be available down the road to allow 5.1 passthrough so files containing multi-channel audio can be played as well. this shouldn’t be an issue since it is connected via HDMI.
It is important to run all Windows Updates before going to town with the Quantum Access, just like any other device. At first, we weren’t able to playback any video we inserted from a thumb drive because it played back with enormous lag. After running all updates, it played the video just fine (minus any multi-channel sound of course).
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Windows 10 does boot up with decent speed and you are up and moving on the desktop in no time. You won’t be running anything intensive–like Autocad, which we joked about in the below interview. No fancy gaming or applications that such up resources (unless of course you are ok with waiting forever). However, all of your typical applications work just fine. From officer to Skype, we even got a Photoshop trial to run on it, although you will most likely prefer to stick to a desktop or solid laptop for this.
Skype does work and so does Cortana’s voice command/recognition. However, the Quantum Access does not come with a built-in microphone, and obviously doesn’t have a camera. So this means you are going to want that USB port freed up to plug in a webcam. This gives you both video and microphone capabilities. Once you get that going, everything is ready to go and runs smoothly.
All of Windows 10’s typical apps such as weather, sports and news run smoothly. You can even download some basic app-based games from the Microsoft Store icon. We were running Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Angry Birds during our tests of it. Once again, it is important to understand that you will not be running anything like Crysis or Call of Duty on this. Thankfully, the price-point of the Access is more than reasonable for this not to be a problem.
At some point we did lose all WiFi functionality on it when a Windows Update process failed. Running Windows Update again and letting everything install successfully led to WiFi once again being an option. An odd experience, but that could have easily been an OS blooper.
WiFi speeds are nominal for today’s tech. Equivalent to most tablets and phones on the market currently. We were getting WiFi speeds on average of about 37-38Mbps to the internet. Using a wired ethernet connection, we saw an average of about 90Mbps. Our internet here runs on a 150Mbps average (downstream), but we mostly get that out of desktops and LAN connected devices with more powerful LAN chipsets (which generally means larger devices to store those chipsets within). Upstream for both WiFi and ethernet were normal around 12Mbps.
It features a microSD slot for expanding your storage by up to 128GB. We used a 64GB SanDisk card in our tests and it performed to all expectations. As long as you don’t go crazy installing a bunch of games and applications, you should be fine, else you will want a 64-128GB card plugged in at all times to install of all that to. Like any other device with limited space on the C drive, you will want to keep as much of that as clear as possible for cache and other variable data and dump everything else on the expanded storage.
There is a small micro-USB input on the side for the included wall adapter. Initially we wondered if this was in case your TV didn’t have a USB port that supplied power. However, in our tests we learned that you have to use the wall adapter. Although the wall adapter says the output is 5V and the USB port on the TV we tested it on also said 5V, Windows failed to boot when we attempted to power it off of the power using a regular micro-USB to USB cable.
Inside the box, there is simply the micro-USB to wall adapter/cable. Beyond that you will only find a small folded paper with brief instructions on it and a customer support card that gives you your typical information on where you can find help.
We had a lot of fun testing out the Quantum Access and feel there it has a lot of use in homes looking to have a media solution for their TV that is as familiar as sitting in front of any other PC setup. It may not be the fastest running Windows 10 device in the world, but it also won’t burn a hole in your pocket causing you to lose a paycheck. USB support is all there and teamed with Bluetooth, gives you everything you would need for device connectivity. Team it with a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse/trackpad solution and you free up your USB input for a webcam. Of course you don’t “need” to use the USB port for a thumb drive since it offers a microSD slot that can hold up to 128GB of additional space. So microSD card + webcam + Bluetooth keyboard/mouse = you are ready to rock. Just keep it turned on, if you can, so that you won’t have to worry about fiddling with the power button–unless Windows makes a mistake or you get hit with a power outage.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Equipped with the latest full version of Windows® 10 Operating System.
Intel® Atom (Quad-core) 1.33 GHz Z3735F processor
Intel® HD Graphics (Gen 7)
2GB RAM DDR3L
32GB eMMC storage
Full USB 2.0 port
USB mouse wired & wireless support
USB keyboard wired & wireless support
Max Support: 128G Mircro/TF card reader
Bluetooth 4.0 Technology
802.11 b/g/n Integrated Wireless Network
Micro USB DC Charging port 5V/2A
Dimensions: 4.94 x 1.54 x 0.72 inches
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.