Google is giving the Chromebox a finer-tuned purpose, targeting business customers with a new video conferencing angle.
Unveiled at the company's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters on Thursday morning, Chromebox for meetings fuses two of Google's most collaboration-friendly products: Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps.
The evolution to Chromebox for meetings basically elevates Hangouts to the next level, jumping back from "good enough" telepresence to a simplified but a higher-quality, out-of-the-box virtual conference room.
The platform supports up to 15 participants, who can join the video meetings from virtually anywhere with an Internet connection via laptops, tablets or smartphones. The only Google-related technical requirement is an active Gmail account.
Otherwise, the program also supports some other existing third-party video conferencing platforms, such as Vidyo and UberConference.
Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management at Google, explained in a blog post on Thursday that Chromebox for meetings should simplify the video conferencing experience, launching an "instant meeting room" -- or at least within minutes.
Walk into the room, click the remote once and you’re instantly in the meeting. No more complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs. Share your laptop screen wirelessly, no need for any cords and adapters. Integration with Google Apps makes it easy to invite others and add rooms to video meetings, directly from Google Calendar.
Google has already tapped a few customers to test out the new version of Chromebox, including tech brands Eventbrite, Gilt, and oDesk.
Chromebox for meetings is rolling out in the United States first, starting today with the price tag of $999. That includes the new ASUS Chromebox, which debuted earlier this week for $179 on its own.
The package deal also includes a full HD camera with a Carl Zeiss autofocus lens and automatic low-light correction, a dual omni-directional microphone/speaker with a noise filter and wideband frequency response, and a remote control sporting a full QWERTY keyboard and a nano-sized USB adapter
Google promised to extend availability to Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom later this year.
Images via Google