When Google recently announced that it was killing off its Chromebook Pixel laptop, many erroneously thought that was the end of the company’s Chrome OS too. As TechCrunch reported: “When asked if Google had plans to produce any more Pixel laptops, [Google’s senior vice president for hardware Rick] Osterloh said that the company had ‘no plans to do one right now.’
He added that the versions that are already out in the market have totally sold out and that there are no plans to make any more of those, either. Indeed, if you go to the Google Store today, you won’t find any Pixel laptops for sale, though there are plenty of third-party Chromebooks available there.”
However, as TechCrunch noted, Osterloh made perfectly clear that while Google was getting out of the PC hardware game for now, its Chrome OS is still something Google is actively developing: “The company is not, of course, talking about Chrome OS. ‘Chrome OS is a huge initiative in the company,’ Osterloh said. ‘Google hasn’t backed away from laptops. We have the number two market share in the U.S. and U.K. — but we have no plans for Google-branded laptops.’”
And that’s good news for fans of Chromebox PCs that run the company’s Chrome OS. As long as Google actively develops Chrome OS, it seems Chromeboxes will be around.
A ChromeBox PC is basically a teeny unit, similar to the Apple TV, that runs Google’s ChromeOS and will connect to a HDTV or monitor. ChromeBox PCs are cheap as chips and, handily, can double as a media centre for your living room if you’re looking for more functionality in your living room.
You can attach a keyboard and a mouse and use it just like a ChromeBook, only on a much bigger display, if you wish. These devices aren’t that well known but they are very useful, especially if you’re after a cheap-as-chips computing solution and don’t want to pay big bucks for one.
Here’s everything you need to know about them.
Google Chromebox: What Is It?
It’s a tiny desktop PC that runs Google’s Chrome OS. And when we say “tiny” we mean smaller than the typical Mac mini. Most Chromeboxes offer a solid state hard drive with a fixed amount of RAM-i.e.: they aren’t too upgradable. Many Chromeboxes also feature graphics cards that are decent enough for basic computer usage and simple photo editing, but aren’t powerful enough for more advanced graphics processes.
Google Chromebox: What Software Does It Run?
Its operating system is Chrome OS, a thin client software that really relies on a constant internet connection to work. Chrome OS relies heavily on Google’s online internet services like Gmail, Google documents, and Hangouts to get your productivity tasks done.
It does not run major software applications like Microsoft Word. Chrome OS does support native apps, but they are nowhere near as functional as the apps you find on most Windows PCs–and most rely on an internet connection to work since the documents they create must be store online in most cases.
Google Chromebox: Who Is It For?
A Chromebox is the perfect computer for someone who only does web browsing and some light productivity tasks. If that describes you (or your parents) than a Chromebox could be a good option. However…
Google Chromebox: Who Is It Not For?
Given the limitations of Chrome OS, you can see a Chromebox isn’t for everyone. Chromeboxes aren’t for people who do a lot of photo or video editing, gaming, or people who need access to documents offline or need to use major software suites such as Microsoft Office.
The limited built-in storage and relatively low-end graphics cards found in most Chromeboxes mean most are woefully under-spec’d to be powerful workstations. Chromeboxes also aren’t good for gamers for the same reasons.
Google Chromebox: Who Makes It?
Any number of hardware vendors make Chromeboxes, including major PC manufacturers like HP and ASUS. However, Google itself does not make a Chromebox–they simply make the software that enables it to run.
Google Chromebox: What Does It Include?
Most Chromeboxes just include the box and the power cord itself. That means it’s up to you to provide the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. If you’ve got extras of those laying around, the Chromebox could be a great, cheap PC option, but if you need to buy the accessories–especially the monitor, the costs could start to add up.
As for what connectivity technology a Chromebox has: virtually all boxes have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Some will have an ethernet port. Most will have USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ports, and they’ll all support some kind of display port.
Google Chromebox: How Much Does It Cost?
Prices vary widely. Most will run you between £100-300.
You can see some of the more popular ones below.
Or, if you’re in the US: