Google has taken the wraps off Chromebox for meetings, a desktop machine that Google says will streamline the videoconferencing process.
Unlike other Chromeboxes, the latest release is explicitly business-centric – it's intended for use by work teams separated by time zones and even continents. It also has a business-class price: $999, with a $250 yearly fee that kicks in after 12 months of free service. In other words, if you're just looking for a gadget that'll make it easier to video-chat with your grammy in Ontario, FaceTime on the iPhone should work just fine.
In a post on the Google blog, engineer Caesar Sengupta said the Chromebox for meetings comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-based Chromebox, a high-definition camera, and a combined microphone and speaker unit.
"The best meetings are face-to-face – we can brainstorm openly, collaborate closely and make faster decisions," Mr. Sengupta wrote. "But these days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones. Meetings need to catch up with the way we work – they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device."
The only requirements are a Gmail account and some sort of screen, such as a computer display; max number of participants is 15.
In related news, ASUS is debuting a much more affordable Chromebox, billed as "the world’s smallest Chrome computer." The device will go on sale beginning in March for $179, but as with the Chromebox for meetings, you'll have to pony up for a display, too.