While I am not going to go into details about Chrome OS, I do want to take a look at the basics of the Chromebox. The internal specs of are pretty impressive:
- 4th generation 64 bit Dual Core Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4GHz processor
- 2GB DDR3 1600 RAM
- 16GB SSD
- Intel HD Graphics
- Dual Band 802.11 a/b/g/n wifi
- Bluetooth 4.0
The number of available ports is impressive for such a small computer. The front of the Chromebox has two USB 3.0 ports. The the side is a 2-in-1 SD card reader. On the back, you have the option for either Display Port or HDMI displays (both are full-sized ports as well), two more USB 3.0 ports, a headphone/mic jack and an Gigabit Ethernet port. This is very similar to the ports available on most Chromebooks. Also note that the Chromebox does not come with a keyboard and mouse so you have to supply your own. Mine is currently paired with the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400.
If you live and breath in the Google ecosystem (Google Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google+, Google Maps, etc.) the Chromebox is worthwhile consideration for a secondary computer. Like other Chrome OS devices, it synchronizes instantly with your existing Google/Chrome services after you have logged in with your Google account because all your work auto-saves to the cloud. This means that you can go from Chromebox to Chromebook to tablet to smartphone without missing a beat.
When you think about it, the ASUS Chromebox is a great alternative to buying yet another cheap Windows desktop especially if you are looking to replace an aging Windows XP computer. The notable benefit is that you don’t have to worry about Windows-based malware or vulnerabilities. However, as with other Chromebooks, you won’t be able to run traditional, installed programs like Microsoft Office, iTunes, or Photoshop. In addition, Chrome OS cannot run browser plug-ins like Java or Microsoft Silverlight, which means that a small number of web-based applications and video playback sites won’t work. If you have no need for those type of applications, then moving to the Chromebox should not be a problem.
With a reliable Internet connection, the ASUS Chromebox can fill most basic needs of a novice or casual computer user. For $199, you get a computer that is small, quiet, has low power consumption and runs a lightweight and low-maintenance operating system. As long as you understand the limitations of Chrome OS, this is a great, little computer for a variety of user types.