ASUS will be releasing its first Chromebox model in early April in Australia. It will be the first of three models, with next month's version being based on an Intel Celeron CPU, while a Core i3 version will be available from late May.
Configuration and pricing
The first ASUS Chromebox will come equipped with an Intel Celeron 2955U CPU, 2GB of DDR3 SDRAM, and a 16GB flash drive for internal storage. This is the same configuration we have seen in Chromebooks such as Acer's C720, and that model turned out to be a good option for tasks such as streaming YouTube and other online video streams to a TV. This will be the lure of the Chromebox for home users.
Unlike a Chromebook, which is often limited in its connectivity options, the ASUS Chromebox has Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, HDMI, DisplayPort, and an audio port. It also features Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. All of this is housed in a box that is 12.4cm wide and deep, and which has a height of 4.2cm. Its power supply is 65W.
The Celeron version will cost $299, while the Core i3 version, which is slated to come out either in the middle of May or late in May, will have a price of $499. ASUS also be bringing out a Core i7 Chromebox that will be optimised for video conferencing, but a release date or price for that has not yet been set by Google.
Chromeboxes are the desktop variant of Chromebooks, and just like their notebook counterparts, they run Google's Chrome OS operating system. They are designed to be simple computers, and they are effective at allowing users to make the most out of Google's many Web services, including Gmail, Drive, Docs, Hangouts, and more.
Target markets for Chromeboxes are home users, the education sector, and also businesses that require simple computers for their employees. Security is an angle that's pushed with Chrome OS due to the operating system's ability to automatically download bug fixes and patches, and also because users can't run any programs other than what they install from the Chrome OS store, which run inside the Chrome Web browser.
Furthermore, the machines can be easily set up and operated by multiple users in a 'hot desk' scenario since all that's needed to login and effectively use Chrome OS is a Google account and Internet access.