Asus announced its first Chrome OS computer, a Chromebox mini-PC that runs on 4th Gen. Intel Celeron SoCs, offers 4k UHD video output, and starts at $179.
When Asus jumps into the increasingly hot Chrome OS market by shipping its $179 Asus Chromebox in March, it will likely be the new price leader among computers that run Google’s Linux-based Chrome Operating System. It’s $20 cheaper than the hot-selling, $199 Acer C720 Chromebook, although it lacks the latter’s screen and keyboard. You get the same 4th Generation (“Haswell”) dual-core Intel Celeron 2955U, clocked at 1.4GHz, as you do with the C720, complete with integrated Intel HD graphics. Later this year, there will also be a Core i3-4010U version, as well as a Core i7 model that will not be offered in the U.S.
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According to specs posted on PCWorld and other sites, the $179 price gives you 2GB of DDR3 RAM, and unlike with the Acer C270, you can upgrade to 4GB. Other features similar to the C270 include a 16GB SSD, an SD slot, and two free years of 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage. They both offer WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as an HDMI port.
Asus Chromebox features
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The Asus Chromebox stands out with its greater wired port options, however. Unlike the C270, it provides a gigabit Ethernet port, both HDMI and a DisplayPort with dual-display support and 4k UHD playback, and four USB 3.0 ports instead of the single USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports provided by Acer’s C270 laptop. A keyboard/mouse option will also be available at an unstated price.
Asus Chromebox streaming to an HDTV
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The 4.9 x 4.9 x 1.7-inch Asus Chromebox is much smaller and cheaper than the only other Chromebox: Samsung’s 7.6 x 7.6 x 1.3-inch, $329 model. The Samsung Chromebox has 4GB of RAM, and more USB ports, but the six ports are all USB 2.0. For display, it offers a DVI port and dual DisplayPorts.
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The Asus Chromebox looks a lot more like an Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini-PC than the Samsung Chromebox or slim tower style Asus Eee Box PC mini-PCs. Intel’s NUC is available in a $289 4th Gen Core i3 version that offers somewhat similar specs. Yet, it offers two USB 2.0 ports in addition to its quartet of USB 3.0 ports. Unlike the Asus Chromebox, it also supplies a SATA port and dual mini-PCIe slots for expansion. The NUCs ship without memory, storage, or OS, but the i3 model supports up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM.
Samsung tipped the first Chromebox mini-PC back in May, 2011 when Google announced the first Samsung and Acer Chromebook laptops. The Chromebox didn’t ship until 2012, and never did as well as the Chromebooks, which themselves never really took off until 2013. By the end of the year, Chromebooks were selling like crazy, leading NPD Group to estimate that they represented 21 percent of U.S. notebook sales to commercial buyers from January through November.
Chromebooks advanced further at last month’s CES, with several new models tipped or announced, including a $279 Toshiba Chromebook, and the first all-in-one PC, the LG Chromebase. Both models are based on Intel’s “Haswell” Celeron processors.
The Asus Chromebox will be available in March, starting at $179. More information is currently available at this Asus Chromebox preview page.