Google and Asus today released a new device for business videoconferences called Chromebox For Meetings.
The device costs $US999, which might sound like a lot considering how low-cost other Google devices called “Chrome” are (like Chromebooks and Chromecast). But that’s really a lot less expense than many business-class videoconference systems, which can run thousands of dollars.
The device includes a high-definition camera, a combined microphone and speaker unit, a remote control and a Chromebox. A Chromebox is a Chrome PC that requires you to bring your own monitor and keyboard. Until now, Samsung was the company that made the Chromebox, priced at $US329.
Google says that in addition to Asus, HP and Dell will soon announce these Chromebox videoconferencing devices.
Up to 15 participants can join the video meeting from their laptops, tablets or smartphones using a Google account. The videoconference uses Google Hangouts, an Internet videoconferencing systems.
People with Google+ accounts can use a limited version of Hangouts for free, but it’s not always easy to use. (Our experience with Hangouts almost always involves someone unable to connect.)
We would expect this device to make it easier to use a Hangout.
It’s also possible to use to connect to other vendors’ videoconferencing systems, even room systems, although that requires using a service from a company called Vidyo. (Its Hangouts cloud service costs $US149 a month.) Likewise this Chromebox can be used with a phone dial-in number via a cloud service from UberConference, which costs about $US10 a month.
Here’s a closer look at the pieces included for $US999. Businesses need to supply their own display.