HP Dials Into Google's Chromebox For Meetings


Hewlett-Packard is stepping up its Google game with a new videoconferencing play.

The computer maker Thursday introduced its first Chromebox, a small form-factor PC that runs Google's Chrome operating system. The HP Chromebox marks another Google product for HP, following its recent foray into Android desktops and last year's Chromebook blitz.

The HP Chromebox, which is scheduled to arrive this spring, is more than just another Chrome-based system, however. In addition to a small footprint, approximately 5 inches by 5 inches, the HP Chromebox is specifically designed to support Google's videoconferencing system, Google+ Hangouts.

[Related: HP Outlines Android, Chrome Vision For The Channel]

HP hasn't released the full technical specifications for its Chromebox, but the new mini-desktop system will come with a fourth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, plus dual display support with HDMI and DisplayPort connections. The HP Chromebox will also come with Google Drive, Google Play, and built-in TPM security and antivirus protection. HP hasn't announced pricing yet.

The HP Chromebox is part of a larger effort from Google, which introduced the "Chromebox for meetings" template Thursday. According to Google, the videoconferencing-focused Chromebox will support up to 15 participants, in which all participants need is a Gmail account, and it will support connections to traditional videoconferencing systems, thanks to a Vidyo tool, as well as phone calls via UberConference.

HP joins Asus on the Chromebox bandwagon; the Taiwanese computer maker earlier this week introduced its own Chromebox model, which starts at $179 with an Intel Celeron processor (and up to an Intel Core i7 processor) and comes with four USB 3.0 ports, 16 GB of storage, HDMI and DisplayPort connections, and 2 GB of memory (with the option for 4 GB). Pricing does not include an HD video camera, a microphone and speaker unit, a remote control, or display. In addition to HP and Asus, Google said Dell will introduce its own Chromebox in the coming months. As for channel availability, Chromeboxes will be available through Synnex and CDW.

Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems, a Google reseller headquartered in North Hollywood, Calif., said the Chromebox is a brilliant move by Google. "Nobody seems to be happy with their videoconferencing system because it's expensive, it's complex, and it doesn't usually work. So this is another area that's ripe for reinvention," he said. "What Google is doing is introducing a high disruptive piece of technology that's cheaper, easier to use, and probably won't ever break."

PUBLISHED FEB. 7, 2014