As if to prove that Chrome and Hangouts are more powerful than we give them credit for, Google today introduced the Chromebox for meetings, a system that uses powerful Chromeboxes to replace expensive teleconferencing solutions.
The new Chromebox for meetings is a $999 system that comes with a Core i7-powered Chromebox, a simple remote with a keyboard, a Jabra speakerphone, and of course a Logitech HD webcam. The system is designed to replace expensive teleconferencing systems that are often far too complicated for many people in the office.
With Chromebox for meetings all you have to do to enter a meeting is walk into the room and press a button on the remote. The Chromebox will launch a Google+ Hangout that up to 15 people can join from other conference rooms with Chromeboxes, their personal computers, or their smartphones (there’s even an option to dial into a call for those who prefer audio only).
Using Hangouts means it’s easy to wirelessly share your laptop screen, and it can sync with Google Apps and other services. The system can, for example, update Google Calendar when the meeting is started, alerting others who are involved in the meeting. Google Calendar can also help keep meetings to their appropriate length, as Chromebox for meetings will warn those in a meeting when the next conference call is scheduled to start so they can wrap up their meeting.
While $999 for such a system sounds like a bit much, especially considering the low price of consumer-grade Chromeboxes, you have to remember that it’s actually about one-tenth the price of a standard teleconference solution. Chromeboxes for meetings are a bit more powerful than the current Chromeboxes on the market, too, as they need the Core i7 CPU to process and encrypt multiple video streams at once. The price also includes the first year of management and support fees, which will normally cost $250 per year.
Chormebox for meetings is available now, and comes with an Asus Chromebox. HP and Dell models will come out soon, and will presumably have the same specs with slightly different designs.
If there’s anything we dislike about Chromebox for meetings, it’s that we can’t get our hands on those Core i7-powered Chomeboxes for ourselves. Sure, they might be overkill for a lot of users, but we can always dream of more powerful Chrome OS hardware, right?