Google Unveils Chromebox for Meetings: Business Collaboration in a Box

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-02-07

Google Unveils Chromebox for Meetings: Business Collaboration in a Box

Using a new Chromebox matched with Google Apps and Google+ Hangouts services, Google has launched its first ever Chromebox for meetings package to help businesspeople hold easier meetings over long distances in real time.

"Chromebox for meetings brings together Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps in an easy-to-manage Chromebox, making it simpler for any company to have high-definition video meetings," wrote Caesar Sengupta, a Google vice president of product management, in a Feb. 6 post on the Google Official Blog.  

"The best meetings are face-to-face—we can brainstorm openly, collaborate closely and make faster decisions," he wrote. "But these days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones. Meetings need to catch up with the way we work—they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device. Starting today, they can be: Any company can upgrade their meeting rooms with a new Chromebox, built on the Chrome principles of speed, simplicity and security."

The new Chromebox for meetings hardware includes an Asus Chromebox with an Intel Core i7 processor, a 1080p high-definition Webcam with a Carl Zeiss lens that supports up to 1,920 by 1,080 pixels, a combined microphone and speaker unit, and a remote control unit, according to Google. The device lets users set their meeting rooms up in minutes and manage all meeting rooms from a Web-based management console, according to Sengupta.

"Walk into the room, click the remote once and you're instantly in the meeting," he wrote. "No more complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs. Share your laptop screen wirelessly, no need for any cords and adaptors. Integration with Google Apps makes it easy to invite others and add rooms to video meetings, directly from Google Calendar."

Up to 15 people at a time can join in on a Chromebook for meetings session, wrote Sengupta. Participants can join the video meeting from almost anywhere, including from other conference rooms, their laptops, tablets or smartphones.

Meetings can also be held with people who don't use Chromebox for meetings by connecting through their Gmail accounts, he wrote. "You can also connect to rooms that have traditional video conferencing systems using a new tool from Vidyo, and participants who prefer phones can join your meeting with a conference call number from UberConference."

The new Chromebox for meetings systems start at $999 and are available immediately to customers in the United States through distribution arrangements with CDW and SYNNEX, wrote Sengupta. In the future, Chromeboxes for meetings will also be available from Hewlett-Packard and Dell, he wrote. Product launches will also come later this year in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K.

Companies testing the Chromeboxes so far include Eventbrite, Gilt, oDesk and Woolworths, he wrote.

Google Chromeboxes and Chromebooks continue to grow in availability and popularity.

Google Unveils Chromebox for Meetings: Business Collaboration in a Box

In January, Toshiba and LG Electronics unveiled new Chromebook devices at the Consumer Electronics Show, including LG's all-in-one desktop machine, called a Chromebase. The new offerings mean that eight manufacturers are now building Chromebooks around the world, according to a Jan. 7 post by Sengupta. The Chromebase has a 21.5-inch, 1080p In-Plane Switching (IPS) display with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 and a viewing angle of 178 degrees. It includes an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM and a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD). It also includes a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) input port, three USB 2.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port. Also integrated in the device is a 1.3-megapixel HD Webcam and built-in speakers.

The new Toshiba Chromebook, which has a 13.3-inch HD screen, is that company's first entry into the Chromebook marketplace. The device includes an Intel Celeron CPU, 2GB of RAM, a 16GB SSD drive and claimed battery life of up to nine hours, according to the company.

In December 2013, Dell unveiled its first-ever Chromebook that is targeted to school students and educators, and company officials said it will release additional models in the future for consumers, small businesses and other markets. The new Dell Chromebook 11 devices will include fourth-generation Intel Celeron 2955U processors, 11.6-inch screens, up to 10 hours of battery life and a 16GB embedded SSD, according to Dell. The machines will be available in two models, one with 4GB of internal DDR3 RAM, and the other with 2GB of RAM. Boot-up time for each machine is about 8.4 seconds, according to the company.

The 11.6-inch displays have a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768 and run on Intel HD graphics chips. Also included are a front-facing 720p Webcam, 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, two USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth 4.0 and a HDMI port. The machines are less than 1 inch high, weigh about 2.9 pounds each and have a battery life of up to 10 hours.

Earlier in December 2013, Google unveiled the new Acer C720P Chromebook.

In October 2013, Google unveiled the new $279 HP Chromebook 11, which weighs just over 2 pounds. The HP machine includes a micro-USB charger that can also recharge a user's Android phone or tablet. The HP 11 is being sold through Best Buy, Amazon, Google Play and HP Shopping in the United States, and through Currys, PC World and many other retailers in the United Kingdom.

In June 2013, Google expanded its network of dealers for its Chromebooks by beginning to sell them through Walmart and Staples stores, raising the number of outlets for the devices to some 6,600 stores. The move added Walmart and Staples stores to the existing Chromebook retail outlets through Best Buy and Consumers are also able to purchase the machines via Staples online, while business users will be able to buy them through the Staples Advantage B2B program.

Chromebooks and their desktop brethren Chromeboxes run Google's Chrome operating system and feature a wide range of preinstalled, cloud-based Google services and products, including Google Docs and Google Calendar. Chromebooks allow users to do their work online with less need for on-machine storage for large applications and files.

In May 2013, Google began testing Chromebook-equipped store kiosks to make it easier for businesses to help their customers and employees check merchandise stock, place orders or get more information while shopping or working. The kiosks use something Google calls "Managed Public Sessions" to allow employee and customer use of the devices without the need for logging in.


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