Is a Chromebox Coming Your Way?
Chromebooks are in the news regularly, and I've written about them several times. But the Chromebook has a sibling we don’t hear much about: the Chromebox, a Google Chrome-based desktop PC replacement. Could this be your next home or office computer? Read on...
What is a Chromebox?
Let's start by reviewing. I last wrote about Chromebook in January. (See Is 2015 The Year You Buy A Chromebook?) The lightweight, cloud-centric laptops powered by Google’s Chrome OS are steadily gaining market share among educators, enterprises, and individual consumers.
Like a Chromebook, a Chromebox relies heavily on cloud services and web-based apps. Internet connectivity is crucial, so a Chromebook has Ethernet and WiFi built in. CPU power and RAM are not so important because a browser is usually the only app that runs locally. Apps and data reside mainly in the cloud, so local storage space can be limited.
When you don’t need much storage, relatively expensive but high-performance solid-state drives are feasible. Add a HDMI/DisplayPort for connecting to any sort of monitor, some USB ports for keyboard, mouse, and other peripherals, and support for wireless printers. That’s your generic Chromebox.
How does it work? One of my readers, Greg Chamberlin, commented on the January article linked above:
I have gone completely Chrome this year. Have a Chromebook laptop and a Chromebox with 32" HDTV for monitor on my desk. Everything just works - no waiting for updates, no crashes, no malware issues. And there are plenty of apps that work offline as well. All of the Google services (GMail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, etc) can be set up to run offline without an internet connection. So it’s not just a brick....
But What About Windows?
The best and worst things about a Chromebox are the same thing: it doesn’t run Windows, or Windows apps. If you need to use a Web app that works only with Internet Explorer, or if you need to run a local app that’s Windows-only, then a Chromebox just won’t work for you. But as Greg says, life without Windows is a lot simpler and safer.
Below are examples of Chromeboxes currently available from well-known companies like HP, Asus, Acer, and Samsung. Their common features are astoundingly small sizes (under 5 x 5 x 1.5 inches) and prices ($150 to $180 base, up to $350).
At the high end ($350 list, as low as $269 street price) is the LG Electronics Chromebase, an elegant all-in-one design that includes a 21.5-inch 1080p monitor. Its specs include a 1.4 GHz Intel Celeron 2955U Dual-Core CPU; 2 GB of RAM; and a 16 GB Solid State Drive; Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; four USB ports and one HDMI port; and a 1 Mpixel Webcam. A keyboard and a mouse are included, though it seems odd they’re both wired products.
The Acer CXI can be had with 2 GB of RAM ($179) or 4 GB ($229). It features an Intel Celeron 2957U Haswell 1.4 GHz CPU; a 16 GB SSD; Gigabit Ethernet, Wifi, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; HDMI, Displayport, 4 USB 3.0 ports, and a multi-format memory card reader.
The Dell Chromebox comes in several configurations ranging from $179 to $329. All include integrated Intel graphics, 16 GB SSD, WiFi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth 4.0, four USB ports (but no HDMI port), and a multiformat card reader. Dell offers a wireless keyboard/mouse bundle for $20.
HP Chromeboxes start as low as $159 and come in turquoise as well as white and black, just in case your home office is decorated in the style of the ‘60s. The base model includes a 1.4 GHz Celeron CPU, 2 GB of RAM, integrated graphics, 16 GB of SSD, WiFi, Ethernet, and Bluetooth. Four USB ports, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort, plus an audio out jack and a multiformat card reader are included.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 1 Jun 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is a Chromebox Coming Your Way? (Posted: 1 Jun 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved