Asus-Built Google Chromebit Is a Great Way to Smarten Up TVs

Asus has proved once again to be a reliable hardware partner for Google. The candybar-sized Chrome OS stick that they’ve just launched will surely give Intel and others a lot of headaches.

Asus and Google are willing to provide an alternative to all the compute sticks out there that differs not only in hardware, software, and design, but also in price. The ones who already own Chromebooks, and are familiar with Chrome OS, might find the Chromebit HDMI stick a natural component of Google’s software ecosystem. Chrome OS was initially developed as a Web-based operating system, but lately it has evolved into something that’s much more than that. There are plenty of apps that no longer require you to be online in order to function, and I wouldn’t be surprise if the rumors about Google’s plan to merge Chrome OS and Android turned out to be true.

Back to the matter at hand, though, Asus and Google announced the Chromebit HDMI dongle back in March, so it took the two companies more than half of a year to come up with a commercially viable version of the product. Chrome OS is as usable as it has always been, so I assume that it’s the hardware that needed some final touches. Probably one of the best things about this operating system is that it takes care of all of its settings by itself, so you don’t have to spend any time on setup or maintenance.

Assuming that you’re not a melancholic who still lives in the CRT monitor age, chances are that your display or TV has an HDMI port, and that’s all it takes to turn any screen into a computer. I wonder if Asus and Google are planning to also launch wireless keyboard and mice for the Chromebit. The Android TV line could make use of such peripherals, as well, so I don’t see why Google should let other manufacturers earn more money for products susceptible to hardware incompatibilities. An alternative to that would be to develop an Android app that acts as keyboard and trackpad for the Chromebit.

In the blog post that announced the launch of the Chromebit HDMI dongle, Google suggested that this product would be great for digital kiosks. Don’t expect to run graphics or memory-intensive apps on this stick, but for slideshows, casual browsing and other such activities, it’s really hard to beat it.

The Chromebit HDMI stick will be sold for $85, initially on Google’s Play Store and later at e-tailers such as Amazon. Considering that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner, it wouldn’t hurt to wait a bit, if you want to save some money. If you’re looking for even more versatility, get a Windows HDMI dongle, but keep in mind that the hardware of those will limit the kind of software you can use.

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[via The Verge]