Forget Chromebooks—the PC world has succumbed to a severe case of Chromebox fever. Mere days after Asus announced an itty-bitty Intel NUC-sized Chromebox, and on the same day that Google announced a $1000 Chromebox designed for Hangouts-based business teleconferencing, HP hopped on the nettop bandwagon with the aptly named HP Chromebox.
Unlike Asus, HP is positioning its Chromebox for use in the office. The marketing materials talk up baked-in TPM security, ChromeOS's automatic software updates and "multi-layered virus protection," and managing deployment via Google's web-based configuration tools.
Pictures of the HP Chromebox show a pair of front-side USB 3.0 ports, and the rear has two more, along with DisplayPort and HDMI connections that can be used to power dual displays. The PC's positively pint-sized, too: At 5 inches wide, it's a wee bit larger than Intel's NUC or Gigabyte's diminutive Brix mini-PCs, but it'll still fit comfortably on the back of a monitor courtesy of an integrated VESA mounting setup.
The computer itself may be small, but its beating heart is anything but. HP plans to stuff its business-focused box with a beefy Intel Core i7 processor, presumably to boost its own teleconferencing chops.
Remember, however, that ChromeOS-based machines won't run Skype or any other traditional desktop programs; they're limited to web services and the handful of offline Chrome apps specifically designed to run atop Google's browser. That could put a serious crimp in your workflow, though Google Docs and other web services make it much easier to Get Things Done online these days.
HP didn't mention a price, but between the big-time processor and the office-leaning positioning, expect the HP Chromebox for quite a few pennies more than Asus' Chromebox, which starts at $180. Look for it to appear later this spring in white, black, silver and turquoise color options, according to GigaOm. You can sign up for availability notifications on HP's website.
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