Google have announced a new budget-priced range of devices. Undoubtedly the most exciting comes in the form of the ‘Chromebit.’ Essentially a computer on a memory stick, Google have met a growing interest in minute computing with their reasonably priced, and very reasonably sized, computers.
Developed by Asus, the Chromebit comes in the form of a slight and space-conscious dongle. Connected via HDMI, the Chromebit can turn any TV or monitor into a bona fide computer. At odds with the device’s size, the Chromebit comes with a Rockchip RK 3288 chip and quad-core graphics. With 2GB of memory and 16GB of solid state storage, the Chromebit will be capable of storing simple software and running basic tasks. Connectivity has also been covered, as the Chromebit has built in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and even a 2.0 USB port stuck on the end. Running the fully-fledged version of Google’s Operating System, Chrome OS, the Chromebit even comes in three available colours (orange, silver and blue). At $100 (about £70), computing has never been so…cheap.
The “smaller than a candy bar” (chocolate to residents this side of the Atlantic) sized PC is joining a new trend in the world of computers. Packing the required software to run a computer onto a device as small as a dongle is nothing new. Intel were the last cab off the rank, when they announced the ‘Compute Stick’. Reported by the Ebuyer Blog during the original unveiling at CES, Intel look set to be Google’s main rival come launch day.
Intel’s computer on a stick comes with Windows 8.1 installed (or Linux if you prefer). As for specs, the Compute Stick aligns itself nicely with the Chromebit. A quad-core Atom CPU, 32GB of storage (doubling that of the Chromebit) and 2GB of RAM are joined by the familiar features of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a mini-USB port. Set to launch sometime this year in the UK, the Compute Stick is priced at $149 (£100) with Windows 8, or $89 (£60) if you prefer Linux.
With Google announcing the prospect of several more manufacturers joining Asus and creating their own version of the Chromebit, it may not be too long before more tech companies climb aboard the micro-computing bandwagon.
Is there a Market?
So, the inevitable question of “why?” has no doubt left many reader’s lips up to this stage. In a similar way to the Raspberry Pi, Chromebit and Compute Stick-like devices are most likely to be favoured by schools. Whilst the Raspberry Pi looks to introduce entry-level software programming and coding to children at school level, the Chromebit could a cost effective method to kit schools out with enough computing power for their basic needs. Similarly, parents might show a level of interest when weighing up their options for a child’s first PC. The advantages to holding a device small enough to keep occasionally out of sight could prove a useful tool for parents wishing to limit a child’s computing time.
Aside from these potential demographics, the concept itself, at least to me, seems pretty cool. The idea of a featured-filled PC, containing all its wide-range of functions, that’s compact enough to slide into your pocket is an intriguing one. Certainly, if component technology continues to evolve it might not be too long until we see a PC that’s small enough to fit on your watch. No release date has been confirmed for the UK, but we’ll be sure to bring you all the low-down when they are become available to purchase in the US this summer.
What are your views on Google’s Chromebit and Intel’s Compute Stick? Will they contain enough power to become your new day-to-day PC, or will they lack any real functionality for the majority of users? Let us know.
Title Image- Google