Print 16 comment(s) - last by ie5x.. on Feb 13 at 12:19 AM

No need for a $99 USD Windows license, this baby is open source and a bargain at that

ASUTek Computer Inc. (TPE:2357) promised us computers in 2014 running Google Inc.'s (GOOG) red-hot Chrome operating system (Chrome OS) and it's already delivered in impressive fashion.

The just announced ASUSTek Chromebox fits in the palm of your hand and costs only $179 USD.  Google archrival Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is fond of saying what Chromebooks "can't do", but in reality unless you're an enthusiast, graphic designer, or code developer, you won't be missing much.

With the tepid public response to Windows 8/8.1 in full swing, Google is presenting its Chrome OS as a compelling alternative to marching back to Windows 7.
While it won't play Crysis, it can fulfill all of your fundamental computing needs ranging from document processing (via the cloud-connected, offline capable Google Docs suite), gaming (via a growing legion of Chrome browser apps), image editing/creation, media (video, audio) playback, and internet browsing.

ASUS Chromebox

The tiny computer is complemented by a 100 GB cloud stroage allotment for Google Drive, which is good for two years.  After that, you can shuffle your data off the cloud and onto external storage, or pay $59.88 USD/year at current rates for the same allotment.  Of course, cloud storage costs are dropping fast, so you can expect that cost to be $30 USD/year perhaps, or less, by the time your subscription expires.
ASUS Chromebox
The base spec of the device includes:
  • Dimensions
    • 4.88" x 4.88" x 1.65"
  • Processor (CPU+GPU)
    • Fourth Generation Core i-Series system-on-a-chip (SoC) from Intel Corp. (INTC)
    • Second-gen. 22 nm transistors
    • SKUs
      • Celeron 2955U
        • 2 core / 2 threads
        • 1.4 GHz
        • Celeron HD (shaders: 200 MHz / DDR transfer: 1000 MHz)
        • U.S., Int'l editions
      • Core i3-4010U
        • 2 core / 4 threads
        • 1.7 GHz
        • HD 4400 (shaders: 200 MHz / DDR transfer: 1000 MHz, 4K ready)
        • U.S., Int'l editions
      • Core i7-4600U
        • 2 core / 4 threads
        • 2.1 GHz (stock) --> 3.3 GHz (turbo)
        • HD 4400 (shaders: 200 MHz / DDR transfer: 1100 MHz, 4K ready)
        • Int'l edition only
  • Memory
    • 2-sticks DDR3
    • 2 GB or 4 GB options
  • Storage
    • 16 GB SSD (M.2)
    • 100 GB Google Drive cloud storage
  • Connectivity
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
    • dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n
    • BlueTooth 4.0
  • I/O + Readers
    • SD card reader
    • 4 x USB 3.0
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
    • 1 x Audio Jack (mic-in/speaker out)
  • Power
    • Max (supply): 65 W
    • Avg. Draw:  ~15 W
Okay, so there are some minor disappointments, including the lack of 802.11ac and the fact that the Core-i7 model is only shipping in Asia and other foreign regions (expect some supply to trickle into the States, though, via resale channels).
ASUS Chrome
In a press release, Google product management director Felix Lin says of the partner device:

The Asus Chromebox offers the simplicity, security, and speed of Chrome OS in the most compact and powerful Chrome device to date.  Perfect for home, the classroom or the office, Chromebox is designed for the way we use computers today.

It's true some apps may be absent, but according to, there are currently 33,000 apps.  With Chromeboxes (desktops) and Chromebooks (laptops) growing faster in sales than any other personal computer platform, many developers are dropping Windows exclusivity.

Chrome OS
Chrome OS 
packs over 30,000 apps, many of which run well both connected to the cloud and offline. [Image Source: Google]

We've seen similar Windows 8 mini-PCs, which are inspired by Intel's "NUC" Haswell reference design.  But a key problem is price.  For example, Gigabyte Technology Comp., Ltd.'s  (TPE:2376) similar Celeron 1037U 1.8GHz equipped "Brix" model is only $167 USD.  Likewise, Intel's own first-party NUC product (with a Intel Core i3 3217U Haswell inside) is $179 USD.  But with the $99 USD "Windows tax" added on, you reach $270-290 USD, roughly $100 more than the ASUS-Google box.
Gigabyte Iris
With a Windows license, Gigabyte's Iris Pro model will set you back $600 USD.
[Image Source: Jason Mick/DailyTech LLC]

A small number may find the Iris Pro-equipped Brix that Gigabyte offers for $499 USD more compelling (the loud fan is a bit of a turnoff), but you're talking about a $600 USD system, with the cost of your Windows license -- roughly three times the cost of the ASUS Celeron-sporting Chromebox.

ASUS Chromebox
Microsoft is reportedly kicking around the idea of making Windows RT free, which could open up new low-price options.  But until that happens, Google has Microsoft beat on pirce -- the deciding factor for many consumers.

Source: ASUSTek Computer

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By Nortel on 2/4/2014 4:16:36 PM , Rating: 2
Provided it's quiet and you can change the OS to Openelec or similar (to run XBMC), this would make a pretty good HTPC at a great price.

I don't know if these processors have corrected the GPU issues that drove many to utilize AMD for HTPC's however.

By hellokeith on 2/4/2014 9:53:14 PM , Rating: 2
Wonder if it can pass HDCP.

By Reclaimer77 on 2/5/2014 8:21:23 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know about being a full blown HTPC with DVR functions and what not, but it should be a competent media streamer. My only question is DLNA. I actually haven't spent much time with Chromium OS to know.

By xti on 2/5/2014 1:00:08 PM , Rating: 2
yup, if it can do xbmc or plex without being a "lite" version (like roku has, for example), this would be closer for me to a win instead of having to build a full blown x86 mini-pc.

No Gdrive deal for me.
By ie5x on 2/5/2014 2:18:41 AM , Rating: 2
I had to integrate with GDrive APIs once and I personally didn't like the synchronization (lack thereof) of files.

If the bulk load of complaints filed on this topic (here -!msg/drive... and here - are any indication, any person who has tons of data to maintain across multiple devices would want to stay away from it for now.

And I don't know why DT is flagging this comment as SPAM!!?

RE: No Gdrive deal for me.
By UnauthorisedAccess on 2/5/2014 6:21:55 PM , Rating: 2
A link maybe?

RE: No Gdrive deal for me.
By ie5x on 2/13/2014 12:19:25 AM , Rating: 2
It was actually the other way round. Once I used, the spam warning wen away :)

By someguy123 on 2/5/2014 3:19:23 PM , Rating: 2
So it's using free google web software available to everyone? Why not just buy a raspberry and shove it in a box? Saves you the $154.

RE: Why?
By UnauthorisedAccess on 2/5/2014 6:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
As someone who has setup a deskop powered by an overclocked Raspberry Pi, the reasons are performance. Even at 1Ghz the Raspberry Pi is quite slow, with frequent pauses and lag. Once you have more than 6 tabs open in a browser it really lags. You do need to have a lot of patience and need to get used to the CPU usage hitting 100% for extended periods (not that there is any heat/power issues, even without a heatsink).

I have one for XMBC duties and it performs perfectly, so if you wanting it JUST for a media player, yes, just get a RPi and Raspbmc or OpenELEC.

spelling error.
By whodi4prez on 2/4/2014 5:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
Last sentence "pirce" instead of "price"

By GotThumbs on 2/5/2014 1:08:50 PM , Rating: 2
which are inspired by Intel's "NUC" Haswell reference design.

The Zotac Z-box Nano was around long before Intel came out with the NUC.

Intels NUC's still lack the features of the Z-box Nano IMO.

Only difference is use of more powerful cpu's.

By UnauthorisedAccess on 2/5/2014 6:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
I've had my fun with the Raspberry Pi, though I'm really missing processing power, USB3.0 and gigabit ethernet. I've toyed with the idea of getting a CubieTruck though this new Asus Chromebox looks long as I can replace the OS with a full Linux OS (including Steam OS).

If that can happen, I'll buy three :)

Fastest Growing
By jak3676 on 2/6/2014 11:19:00 AM , Rating: 2
With Chromeboxes (desktops) and Chromebooks (laptops) growing faster in sales than any other personal computer platform, many developers are dropping Windows exclusivity.

misleading comparisons
By invidious on 2/4/14, Rating: -1
RE: misleading comparisons
By gixser on 2/4/2014 5:32:28 PM , Rating: 2
I had to stop and check to make sure this wasn't and press release issued by the Google PR dept.

RE: misleading comparisons
By CrazyBernie on 2/4/2014 6:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
As a "tech enthusiast," I got the humorous meme reference, and took it for nothing more.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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