Intel may have more than just newer Broadwell processors up its sleeve as it revamps its bare-bones NUC PCs.
Images on Intel’s website—as discovered by Legit Reviews—show a redesigned enclosure for the miniature desktops, which include the processor and other basic components but require users to bring their own operating system, storage and RAM.
Most noticeably, the two USB 3.0 ports on the front of the enclosure come in blue and yellow, and it’s likely that the yellow port will be able to send power even when the NUC is turned off. The two ports have also been bunched closer together to the headphone jack and IR sensor. Intel may have managed to slim down the enclosure on its smaller NUC models as well, with Legit Reviews claiming a height of 1.2 inches, down from the previous 1.4 inches. (These models can only contain solid state storage, while a larger 1.9-inch enclosure can house an internal HDD.)
The images also fuel speculation about optional NFC and wireless charging capabilities on certain models through a replaceable lid. An earlier leaked roadmap mentioned these features as possibilities, and now Intel’s site shows an image of the lid popping off. Users could then potentially charge their phones or smartwatches by placing them on top of the NUC. The uses for NFC are less clear, but they may allow for unlocking the computer with a trusted device.
There’s no word on pricing or release date, as Intel isn’t likely to make these new variants official until CES. The screenshots also give no indication of the touch controls that Intel showed off in September.
Why this matters: Intel is a firm believer in these mini-PCs, having sold over 1 million units in 2013 and expecting to sell 50 percent more this year. In 2015, Intel may try to take even greater advantage of the tabletop design, with features like wireless charging that only make sense if you’re not stashing the computer under you desk.