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Google aims Chromebox at video conferencing

Feb 7, 2014 — by Eric Brown 1,769 views

Google announced a “Chromebox for Meetings” system based on the Asus Chromebox mini-PC, and HP unveiled its first Chromebox, featuring a Core i7 CPU.

A few days after Asus announced the first Chromebox mini-PC to be introduced the original Samsung Chromebox, HP unveiled its own Chromebox model, which similarly runs on Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS. Meanwhile, Google announced “Chromebox for Meetings,” an enterprise video-conferencing system that initially will be built on the Asus Chromebox, but later this year be available with the HP Chromebox and an upcoming Dell Chromebox (see farther below).

Chromebox for Meetings


Google announced a $999 video-conferencing bundle called Chromebox for Meetings aimed at the enterprise market that leverages its Google+ Hangouts application. The initial model is built around the Asus Chromebox, but later this year, Google will introduce an HP Chromebox version, as well as a model based on an upcoming Chromebox from Dell. The Asus system will use the Core i7-based model that otherwise will be available only outside the U.S.

Chromebox for Meetings
(click image to enlarge)

Other hardware elements include an HD camera, a combined speaker and microphone unit, and a remote control. No manufacturers were revealed for these peripherals.

The camera offers up to 1080p video, with the resolution automatically dropping down from 1920 x 1080 pixels when it detects lower bandwidth. The camera features a Carl Zeiss autofocus lens and automatic low-light correction. It does not appear to offer pan and tilt, or other advanced video-conferencing features, however.

The microphone/speaker unit integrates an omnidirectional mic with noise filter, a DSP for speech clarity, and wideband frequency response. Mute, call, and volume buttons are also available. The RF-based remote has a QWERTY keypad and a nano-sized USB adapter.

Chromebox for Meetings UI
(click image to enlarge)

The Chrome OS based software supports up to 15 other Chromebox for Meetings participants simultaneously, and can also include anyone with a Gmail account and a camera. A tool from Vidyo enables connections with traditional video-conferencing systems, and audio-only participants can plug in via UberConference.

Google touts the system for being easy to set up, with no “complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs.” The meeting software, based on Google+ Hangouts, includes a remote screen-sharing capability, and there’s also integration with other Google Apps, such as Google Calendar for scheduling.

CDW and SYNNEX are handling the sales and distribution channel, but you can order directly from Google. The solution has already been beta tested by companies including Eventbrite, Gilt, oDesk, and Woolworths, says Google. Later this year, sales will expand to Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.K.

“Chromebox for meetings is simple to set up and maintain, and allows us to communicate more easily with our global offices via Google+ Hangouts, which we were already using,” stated Miguel Pino, Eventbrite IT manager.

HP Chromebox

The HP Chromebox will ship in the spring in the U.S., at an unstated price. Unlike the Asus model, it runs on an Intel Core i7 processor of the 4th Generation “Haswell” variety. The Asus system also offers the new, more power-efficient “Haswell” chips, but the initial $179 version uses the Intel Celeron, with a Core i3 version coming later this year. Asus does have a faster i7 based model, but aside from its role in the Google’s Chromebox for Meetings, it’s available only in markets outside the U.S.

HP Chromebox in multiple colors
(click image to enlarge)

Like the Asus mini-PC, the HP Chromebox offers four USB 3.0 ports, as well as dual display support via its DisplayPort and HDMI ports. At five inches (126mm) wide, it’s only slightly larger than the 4.9-inch Asus Chromebox, and is available with mounting for the back of a monitor, as well as a VESA mount for the wall. The HP Chromebox is also notable for offering more colors, which appear to be white, black, gray, and teal.

No more hardware details were provided, but HP said the computer will integrate Google Play and Google Drive apps. The system also includes Google’s web-based management and configuration tools, automatic software updates, built-in TPM security, and multi-layered virus protection, says HP.

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One response to “Google aims Chromebox at video conferencing”

  1. Druenny says:

    If it’s a google item, it’s junk. Google should leave open-source things alone. Buy into some microsoft stuff instead. Google has ruined it for debian (aka linux) users. With things like chrome os.

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