Google reveals Chromebox, targeted at the enterprise for $999


Less than 24 hours ago, Google revealed their latest product in their ever expanding line-up, the Chromebox.  The system allows for a video conferencing setup, providing all the equipment apart from a display and hopes to enable small business's to collaborate their ideas with ease.

The system is available for $999 in the US today with a one year free use license, before paying $250 annually. Chromebox is set to hit other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and U.K in the near future. 

The hardware is attractive for the price; the box comes with a mighty Intel i7 processor, and a fully HD Logitech webcam, that adjusts its resolution depending on the bandwidth available. 4 USB ports are available as well, as is a microphone and keyboard. The entire system is powered by Google Hangouts and it provides deep integration with the company's services, such as Google Calender. The system is not trying to function as a standalone computer, but a purely video conferencing and collaboration based product. 

Due to the underlying Google Hangout software, anybody can join the call that has a Hangout supported device. This may be particularly useful when used in a workplace that has different workers in different environments, especially with the rise of the BYOD mentality. All the latest Android phones support Google Hangout, as well as most Android tablets, Apple devices and computers. Google have a good synchronization infrastructure, and they leverage it well for this service.

The actual software on the Chromebox is easy to use, not requiring any PINs or codes when joining or hosting a call, and it allows for a smooth setup compared to other rivals. The device can also be managed through ChromeOS, customizing certain features and adding meeting dates etc. The user interface is similar to Chromecast, and has a clean and minimalist approach that looks attractive in the workplace.

Google's reasoning for releasing this product is simple. Over the past years all meetings within the corporate environment have been the same. Setting up a reliable video conferences is not only difficult, but can also be quite expensive. Chromebox is supposed to solve those problems and to allow for easy video conferencing at an affordable cost.

It's interesting to see how Google's new push into the business environment fares; whether its adoption skyrockets or whether this will be just another failed experiment in the company's long list of experimental products.

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A fully functioning qwerty keyboard. Wow, my last pc shipped with a semi functioning keyboard. As if... This is a terrible article.

I don't know why google insist of pushing this product into people's throat. Chromebook, Chromebox are irrelevant. dear google please stop making them, instead focus on your best which is android.

trojan_market said,
I don't know why google insist of pushing this product into people's throat. Chromebook, Chromebox are irrelevant. dear google please stop making them, instead focus on your best which is android.

I just wish they'd quit trying to hook Google+ into everything.

techbeck said,
So Google is forcing you to buy their products and you have no other choices? Ok....

I am just saying they can focus on android which is really best of google. Chromebook(box) is a dead concept.

trojan_market said,

I am just saying they can focus on android which is really best of google. Chromebook(box) is a dead concept.

A connected, Internet-centric device is a wonderful idea, so long as everywhere you go there is always Internet, it almost never stops working, and it's almost always lightning fast.

I don't think today's consumers are just ready for that kind of connectivity commitment yet. The original plans for the XB1 and all the pushback is some indication of that, and of course, Android outsells ChromeOS by orders of magnitude, even excluding phones.

Talys said,

A connected, Internet-centric device is a wonderful idea, so long as everywhere you go there is always Internet, it almost never stops working, and it's almost always lightning fast.

I don't think today's consumers are just ready for that kind of connectivity commitment yet. The original plans for the XB1 and all the pushback is some indication of that, and of course, Android outsells ChromeOS by orders of magnitude, even excluding phones.


and how it is different from any other device? I mean even traditional windows XP PC can take advantage of internet anywhere you go. plus it can work offline. Besides there are some areas Internet is not available (e.g. most airplanes, trains, road trips)

I'm currently testing the xbox one and Skype for conference calling at my college and I can say.... it works wonderfully!

A hell of a lot cheaper than this too. Granted the Xbox One was a "gift" from Microsoft so that cost us nothing but still, £34.99 a year for xbox live. Sorted

It will be interesting to see how this product mines your data. Does it look for key items in the room to target you for ads? Perhaps you left a can of Coke on the table or a box of Trojans?

Google doesn't supply software and hardware that doesn't gather data from you. Google makes the NSA seem like amateurs.

The hardware is extremely impressive for the price; the box comes with a mighty Intel i7 processor, and a fully HD Logitech webcam

$1000 for a box running on a core i7 cpu and a webcam is impressive?

seriously?
the hardware costs less than $500. What is impressive here?

not to mention the yearly subscription costs.

Comparable systems running Win7 are half that costs and do not come with as many features or peripherals.

Intel NUCs are roughly $300 and run an i3 processor. Then you need to by memory and a flash module which is roughly and additional $200. Then you need to by MS office which depending on the version, will cost you and extra 100-200. NUCs dont come with webcames, microphones, or a keyboard

techbeck said,
Comparable systems running Win7 are half that costs and do not come with as many features or peripherals.

Intel NUCs are roughly $300 and run an i3 processor. Then you need to by memory and a flash module which is roughly and additional $200. Then you need to by MS office which depending on the version, will cost you and extra 100-200. NUCs dont come with webcames, microphones, or a keyboard

Not quite. The Haswell NUCs are Atom, i3, or i5, and range from $180 - $450. They require memory and either mSATA or 2.5" hard drives. 4GB of memory will run you about $50, and a small-ish SSD will run from $60 - $100, or you can buy a hybrid 2.5" and get 750GB+. so, all together, you're spending about $300 - $600, more if you go crazy on RAM or get a 1TB SSD. If you need Wi-Fi, you actually have to add that on.

After that, what you have is a regular PC. You could install Chrome OS, if you wanted Linux would be fair game, and probably even a Hackintosh,. Office and Windows aren't REQUIRED, but lots of people will. Then again, any of the people that HAD to have Office, wouldn't consider ChromeOS, right?

Now, my and/but: Intel NUC is not the best way to go for value. You can get a mini-ITX Gigabyte Z87 motherboard ($150) with 2 Gigabit adapters, dual HDMI output, WiFi, and a PCIe slot, plus 2 DDR3 memory modules. You can pop an i7 into it, but frankly, an quad core i5 Haswell ($230) will be plenty for most people. Factor in a case/psu ($100), 8GB memory ($100), and a 120GB SSD ($100) -- and you're at $580 for hardware.

That leaves you with plenty of room for accessories, and hardware. And, if you want, you can get an i7 or toss in a nice, fancy video card to sneak in BF4

Talys said,

Not quite. The Haswell NUCs are Atom, i3, or i5, and range from $180 - $450. They require memory and either mSATA or 2.5" hard drives. 4GB of memory will run you about $50, and a small-ish SSD will run from $60 - $100, or you can buy a hybrid 2.5" and get 750GB+. so, all together, you're spending about $300 - $600, more if you go crazy on RAM or get a 1TB SSD. If you need Wi-Fi, you actually have to add that on.

Was going off prices on Amazon. We have roughly 30 NUCs in use and the NUC, Storage, and Memory all costs us around $500-$600 per system. Not counting the software licenses, display, or peripherals. Mainly they are just plugged in to the back of a big display and controlled remotely. While the NUCs are cool little devices, we get more fun out of those Intel sound boxes inside each box.

Oh, and the ones we use are i3s, 64gb flash storage, and 8gb RAM. We have a few with wireless cards to.

techbeck said,

Was going off prices on Amazon. We have roughly 30 NUCs in use and the NUC, Storage, and Memory all costs us around $500-$600 per system. Not counting the software licenses, display, or peripherals. Mainly they are just plugged in to the back of a big display and controlled remotely. While the NUCs are cool little devices, we get more fun out of those Intel sound boxes inside each box.

Oh, and the ones we use are i3s, 64gb flash storage, and 8gb RAM. We have a few with wireless cards to.

Yeah, nothing wrong with your ballpark -- I was just pointing out that there are other processor configurations (cheaper and more expensive), and you could install some other operating system on them... though I've never seen anything other than Windows on an NUC

Google wants to get into the boardroom to have a hand up on what companies are planning and maybe they will borrow a a few concepts or get some insider trading tips..

The link isn't very clear what operating system Chromebox uses.

If it's not Windows, and only runs Hangout and Google Apps, I don't see the value. At a very minimum it needs to be able to run PowerPoint. Also, it's important to many companies to be able to play common video formats (maybe this works?). Video conferencing needs to have screen sharing and whiteboarding too.

The Google blog page doesn't really say how this is better than Skype / Lync / GoToMeeting bundled with hardware, especially for its target market of smaller businesses.

Talys said,
At a very minimum it needs to be able to run PowerPoint. Also, it's important to many companies to be able to play common video formats (maybe this works?). Video conferencing needs to have screen sharing and whiteboarding too.

Hangouts already has screen sharing, whiteboard and slide sharing, regardless of the OS it's running on.

AmazingRando said,
I would assume, future-proofing for 4k+ resolutions.

If that's the case, you put the load on a cheap GPU, not an expensive CPU.

Ilmiont said,
'...setting up video conferencing is difficult...' - is Skype really that hard to use???

Our $25,000 Polycom "telepresence" conference equipment is a pain in the butt to call someone... you need to know their IP have both sides firewalls ok since it wants like 30 ports open (exaggerated)..... it's just a pain in the butt....

neufuse said,

Our $25,000 Polycom "telepresence" conference equipment is a pain in the butt to call someone... you need to know their IP have both sides firewalls ok since it wants like 30 ports open (exaggerated)..... it's just a pain in the butt....

That's really apples to oranges though, the telepresence system is on a different scale to simply having a small PC with a webcams that runs Skype or Lync.

neufuse said,

Our $25,000 Polycom "telepresence" conference equipment is a pain in the butt to call someone... you need to know their IP have both sides firewalls ok since it wants like 30 ports open (exaggerated)..... it's just a pain in the butt....

that is not comparable to chromebox or skype.

the whole point of the kind of solution you're talking about is to avoid sending private communications to a 3rd party (like google or MS).

Obviously, it IS harder to configure a whole infrastructure from scratch rather than using an hosted product.

but with a hosted product you risk being spied by governments or hackers taking over the public infrastructure.

neufuse said,

Our $25,000 Polycom "telepresence" conference equipment is a pain in the butt to call someone... you need to know their IP have both sides firewalls ok since it wants like 30 ports open (exaggerated)..... it's just a pain in the butt....

Same experience. It isn't even worth using. I don't do video calls with clients. When clients request it, I just say we don't have the capability yet. I hate video calls. If you want me to do some screen sharing through a service so you can follow along with pictures and a power point, I can do that. But I don't need to see your face and you don't need to see mine. /endofrant.

George P said,

That's really apples to oranges though, the telepresence system is on a different scale to simply having a small PC with a webcams that runs Skype or Lync.

not really, the op said how hard is it to set up a video conference... most businesses of good size use Polycom systems... I was just pointing out that some video conference systems are hard to use going by what this is shown off doing, it's doing basically the same thing our expensive polycom system is doing

neufuse said,

Our $25,000 Polycom "telepresence" conference equipment is a pain in the butt to call someone... you need to know their IP have both sides firewalls ok since it wants like 30 ports open (exaggerated)..... it's just a pain in the butt....

Then you're doing it wrong. Any business serious about video conferencing would have infrastructure in place like a gatekeeper (Cisco VCS in our case) and a multipoint conference unit (Cisco MCU in ours), with a management server (Cisco TMS) controlling everything. Every device on the network has an address book, you just pick the room or person from the list and press green. Connects in an instant, and the MCU allows up to 20 endpoints (more depending on licenses) to participate in the same conference call.

Cisco TMS: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps11338/

p.s. Switch to Cisco Telepresence conference units. Much better than Polycom, and they're around £9,000 a pop with maintenance. You just add an appropriate TV.

Cisco SX20 Telepresence Endpoint: http://www.cisco.com/web/telepresence/products/sx20.html

Also, back on the subject of this topic... which business in their right mind would trust their sensitive business communications to "Google Hangouts"?

Hikimori said,
MS is going to kill them with Xbox One for business.
You could buy an xboxone and over 8 years of xbox live gold for the cost of a chromebox. I'd say they're already very competitive.

Hikimori said,
MS is going to kill them with Xbox One for business.

You can surely bet, it's not going to be called Xbox One for business. They had a product like this some years ago called "Unified Messaging Communication..." or something like that. I just remember being at a Microsoft seminar where they showed a Devil Wears Prada parody about that service.

Microsoft can't kill anyone, if their products are going to be expensive. That's why they are getting killed today. We just don't live in a new technological and high competitive world, but the U.S. economy sucks bad right now. Energy costs are so high and unemployment ridiculously high to the point where people are dropping out of the workforce. Therefore businesses will always be looking for cheap solutions.

VictorWho said,

You can surely bet, it's not going to be called Xbox One for business. They had a product like this some years ago called "Unified Messaging Communication..." or something like that. I just remember being at a Microsoft seminar where they showed a Devil Wears Prada parody about that service.

Microsoft can't kill anyone, if their products are going to be expensive. That's why they are getting killed today. We just don't live in a new technological and high competitive world, but the U.S. economy sucks bad right now. Energy costs are so high and unemployment ridiculously high to the point where people are dropping out of the workforce. Therefore businesses will always be looking for cheap solutions.

There was a store months ago that said MS was showing the Xbox one to business, the hardware itself is already cheaper at $500 and honestly with them opening it up to apps later, not just games, I can picture them making special business deals that use either Skype, or in this case Lync to way undercut this offering. Heck, they might be custom XB1s with no disc drive and drop any need to pay for something else on top since they probably already run something like SharePoint or Lync and so on.

If hangouts weren't limited to being a Chrome webapp, I could see it being a bit more popular. No more native applications from Google it seems.

When I firs read the title I thought they might be releasing a version of the Chromebook for businesses but this might actually be rather cool. My bosses here are already quite fond of Google Hangouts already so having a device like this might work good.

I am not sure what advantage this will have over a traditional PC or Laptop? even an old school Windows XP Box or laptop has advantage over this ****.