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Asus and Dell enter the Chromebox market

Asus Chromebox for meetings.

Dell has announced its first Chromebox and Asus has announced a higher-end second Chromebox model targeting the meeting room market.

The Chromebox is essentially a small form factor PC running Google’s Chrome OS instead of Microsoft’s Windows OS. The free OS allows the OEM to pass a lot of savings on to the consumer, and also means, depending on the use case, less powerful (and less expensive) hardware can be used to power it. It’s the desktop version of the Chromebook laptops many vendors have launched.

The first Asus Chromebox, launched earlier this month, is a budget model priced starting at US$179 – although that can go up with Intel Core i3 and i7 processor options – targeted at the home, classroom and small office market.

Asus recently followed up that announcement with the Chromebox for meetings, which it describes as a powerful but compact in-room video solution. Powered by an Intel Core i7 processor, it includes a Logitech 1080p HD video camera, combined microphone and speaker unit from Jabra, Philips remote control, cable accessory kit and software package. Google Hangouts and Google Apps are integrated to power meetings. It’s priced starting at US$999, with availability later this month.

Dell is also developing a Chromebox for meetings product. According to Dell, it will be “an integrated solution designed to help geographically dispersed teams conduct meetings from a large variety of devices, from nearly anywhere, and collaborate ‘face-to-face’ in a virtual environment.” It will include an HD camera, combined microphone and speaker unit and a remote control.

“We are excited to be working closely with Google on such an innovative solution that gives professionals the opportunity to connect, collaborate and meet face-to-face no matter where they are,” commented Neil Hand, vice-president and general manager, Dell Tablet Group, in a statement. “We are committed to enabling our customers to be productive and effective in any professional setting, and improve the office meeting experience.”

Dell described product availability as “in the coming months” and no pricing or hardware specifications were released.