While Chromebooks have enjoyed substantial success in the mobile market, even spawning Windows competitors, companies have had less luck with Chromeboxes, which bring Google's Chrome OS to the desktop. Like their laptop counterparts, Chromeboxes don't offer much in the way of specs, but don't really require them and, as a result, can be sold for dirt cheap. But whether users don't see the same need for Chrome's simplicity in a traditional PC form factor, or it's the latest sign of desktops' fading popularity, Chromeboxes have been few and far between.
Samsung was out in front of the pack, but more recently, Asus and HP have tried their hands at Chromeboxes (not to mention LG's Chromebase all-in-one Chrome PC). Now one of the leading Chromebook makers, Acer, is trying its hand at a desktop Chrome computer. The company has just launched its Chromebox CXI family composed of a pair of configurations.
Unlike some of the existing Chromeboxes that resemble Apple's Mac Mini, the Chromebox CXI is more vertically oriented, while still remaining compact enough (6.5x5.1x1.3 inches) to be mounted to the back of a monitor if desired. Both CXI models make use of Intel's Celeron 2957U processor and come with a 16GB solid-state drive (with an SD card slot allowing an additional 32GB of removable capacity), but differ when it comes to memory: The CXI-2GK includes 2GB of RAM, while the CXI-4GKM doubles that amount.
While Chromeboxes were initially targeted to consumers, Google has more recently been touting their advantages to the corporate world for tasks like enterprise video conferencing. Not surprisingly, then, the CXI has some business-friendly features. These include what Acer calls "Powerwash," which allows an IT staff to easily wipe a user's local data (which is already stored in the cloud thanks to Chrome) and restore the CXI to its original state. Acer's Chromeboxes also include a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 chip that encrypts data on the system to secure it and ease recovery by IT pros in the case of device theft.
As with other Chromeboxes (and most Chromebooks as well), the price for the CXI is quite affordable. The CXI-2GK will run $179.99, and the CXI-4GKM will be priced at $219.99 when they become available in late September. Will Acer's Chromeboxes fare any better than their predecessors? Are you ready to use a Chrome-based desktop? Let us know your thoughts in the Talkback section below.