Google Chromebit promises cheapest, candy bar-sized option for students, teachers

As PCs in general continue to find their way (or not) in the new mobile-first world, Chromebooks have all but settled into a sweet spot in serving schools and businesses.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Google's Chrome-flavored hardware portfolio continues to grow with even more slightly hidden but very palatable options for business users abound.

Among the bevy of new Chromebooks and Chrome OS update is the new Chromebit, a thumb drive-sized (or as Google described, "smaller than a candy bar") stick made by Asus.

Somewhat Chromecast-meets-Mac Mini, the tiny device is actually a fully-fledged Chrome OS computer that can be plugged into a display via HDMI. Users can then link up peripherals (i.e. mouse, keyboard, etc.) via USB or Bluetooth.

Chrome hardware already took on a more decisive focus for the enterprise roughly a year ago through video conferencing on Chromebox, fusing two of Google's most collaboration-friendly products: Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps.

That evolution to Chromebox for Meetings basically elevated 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.

As PCs in general continue to find their way (or not) in the new mobile-first computing world, Chromebooks have all but settled into a sweet spot in serving schools and businesses.

As of last July, the Mountain View, Calif.-headquartered corporation boasted it had sold more than a million Chromebook units to schools the previous quarter.

Aside from the portable form factors, Chromebook adoption in schools has undoubtedly been ushered along thanks to bargain basement price tags, which include management and support. IT departments are enabled to manage anywhere between 10 to 10,000 devices across school campuses, districts or regions.


Before today, the entry point was $249. Google slashed that rate to $149 with Tuesday's introduction of the Haier Chromebook 11 and the Hisense Chromebook, both promising "all day battery life" and built specifically with students and teachers in mind. Both models are available for pre-order now via Amazon and Walmart.

Cyrus Mistry, lead product manager for the Chromebooks for Education team, posited in a blog post that the lower entry point at $149 will "get Chromebooks into the hands of 33 percent more students than ever before on the same budget."

Google also stacked the deck with the new Asus Chromebook Flip, an ll-metal convertible with a touch screen -- altogether weighing less than two pounds when it ships this spring for $249.

With expectations in these fields already set heading into the new year, Google has already pushed out a number of new releases to serve students and educators alike.

In February, Dell rolled out its new lineup of mobile educational offerings, led by a new version of its rugged Chromebook 11.

Acer followed in March with its new, heftier Chromebook 15, sporting a 15.6-inch display and promising up to nine hours of battery life. That's on top of two other student-minded models Acer had already trotted out in January.

Specific pricing and availability for the Chromebit haven't been revealed yet.

However, the Chromebit is promised to drop later this year for less than $100, which would make for possibly the most revolutionary computing option pitched to schools ever.

For a closer look at Google's new Chromebook portfolio, check out the promo clip below:

Images via Google

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