As Chromebooks keep grabbing attention with low-cost hardware running on a browser-based ChromeOS, ASUS took the operating system in a new direction with the anticipated ASUS Chromebox starting at an amazing $179. The price alone makes this machine attractive. Add to that a Haswell-based processor, tiny form factor and plenty of ports for the desk and living room, and ChromeOS now looks like a viable alternative on desk or entertainment center.
ASUS calls their Chromebox an “easy out-of-the-box setup” and promises to protect the machine with “integrated virus and malware protection” making it appealing to families, schools and businesses. Consider the following needs:
- Security on a home computer littered with malware thank to kids without the discretion to avoid evil links on those online gaming sites
- An office that needs nothing more than Google Docs and a specialized online point of sale or networked database
- Schools that already own hundreds of monitors connected to outdated PCs running Windows XP or Vista but can’t afford $400-$1000 replacements
The ASUS Chromebox could suffice in the above situations. ASUS promises security. ChromeOS gives us simplicity and the price makes it hard to compete with even for a $300 or $400 Windows PC when a buyer can get two of the ASUS machines.
The ASUS Chromebox will attach to the back-end of a VESA-based monitor, making it look like the popular all-in-one Windows 8.1 machines at the big box stores. It will also hook up to more than one display, making it a nice tool for plugging into the family TV and a computer at the same time. Watch movies on Google Play Movies or Netflix and then switch over to a computer to write a homework paper in Google docs, the same app many kids will use thanks to all the Chromebooks in schools today.
For those who may not know, the ChromeOS lets users enter their Google login data and it starts to populate the various parts of the OS with the user’s data. The Google Drive holds their files, Chrome includes their bookmarks and login data and for users of more than one machine their apps load up within a couple of minutes. The machine will come with 100GB of Google Drive storage.
This could work as a Home Entertainment computer with its 4K support and a fast 4th gen Intel processor. There’s a HDMI out and a DisplayPort connection. We get two USB 3.0 ports on the front and two on the back. Most set-top boxes with Hulu Plus won’t play all the content available on the streaming services website. The network streaming TV services don’t work on most of them either. But the Chromebox, running a web browser, will play this content, assuming the sites don’t find a way to block like they did with Google TV.
Here’s the specs for this little box that will not take up much more room than a couple of remote controls.
- 4th gen Intel processor (nothing more specific given)
- 802.11 b/g/n wireless
- 4 USB 3.0 ports
- HDMI and DisplayPort outputs
- SD card reader
- Gigabit Ethernet
- Combo Mic and Headphone jack
- Kensington lock
Here’s a few key details left out of the news.
- Release date – “sometime in March” is all we know
- Storage amount built-in
- Memory – will it come with 2GB or 4GB or more?
ChromeOS can’t install software other than the webapps running on the Chrome browser. They usually come with limited storage built-in, but this box offers an SD-card slot and plenty of USB ports for hooking up a larger hard drive to house media.