Google Unveils Chromebox for Meetings: Business Collaboration in a Box

Google has packaged an all-in-one business collaboration tool together using a Chromebox along with Google Apps and Google+ Hangouts to offer an easy way for far-flung businesspeople to hold meetings.

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.