Featured Article from Conferencing

Conferencing May Prove to Be Chrome OS' True Calling

February 11, 2014

By now, most people have probably heard of Google’s Chrome OS. Unfortunately for Google, the lightweight, Web-based platform tends to elicit cries of “what’s the point!” rather than genuine interest. But maybe that’s because the company has been going about Chrome all wrong — until now, that is.

Initially, Chrome OS appeared on Chromebooks like the HP Chromebook 11 as an answer to the now-defunct netbook space. And, to be fair, the operating system is well suited to basic computing tasks with none of the issues Windows 7 tended to have in a tiny laptop form factor. The problem is, Windows 8 plays nicer with low-powered hardware than its predecessor did, while Intel’s new Atom chips are leaps and bounds greater than they were three to four years ago.

Then Chrome OS made its way to the desktop in the form of the Chromebox, which was again meant to be lightweight and cheap and was again drowned out by established Windows offerings. But now, Google is launching a Chromebox designed specifically for business meetings and, believe it or not, this seems to be Chrome OS’ calling.

It seems odd, but think about it: A Chromebox designed to showcase Google+ Hangouts, which of course offers video conferencing, coupled with easy access to Google Apps is likely ideal for many businesses. More importantly, a Chromebox is a cheaper, more reliable option than any equivalent Windows PC — besides, a full PC would be wasted for conference room use, while also being considerably less portable.

That said, this conference-oriented Chromebox — which will be built by Asus, with HP and Dell models expected down the line — is a bit pricier than its consumer-facing siblings at $1,000. This price point includes a $250 first-year fee for management and support, however. Meanwhile, this Chromebox boasts high-end hardware, including an Intel Core i7 processor, a high-definition camera with a Carl Zeiss autofocus lens, a dual omni-directional microphone and speaker unit with noise filter, and a remote control with a full QWERTY keyboard.

Finally, the Chromebox offers excellent ease of use and can take up to 15 video feeds from computers, as well as mobile devices — provided all participants have a Google Account, of course. It even features integration with more conventional video conferencing systems thanks to the efforts of Vidyo and UberConference.

In other words, it seems as though Chrome OS has finally found its footing.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker