Google has launched a new platform aimed at helping businesses better set up, run, and manage meetings. With Chromebox for Meetings, employees can quickly host meetings leveraging Chrome OS and Google+ Hangouts technology without having to deal with complicated logistics and technology setup time. The ASUS version of the hardware device is available in the US today and for $999 per setup.
At a media event on Google’s campus in Mountain View, CA, Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management, spoke about the frustration that’s experienced when trying to set up a meeting today — you need to find out if a room is available, assemble all the participants, and even deal with the technology to make sure everyone gets the same information. With Chromebox for Meetings, Google streamlines the process where organizers just plug in the device and can quickly get started.
The device has a Intel Core i7 processor, includes both HDMI and DisplayPort++, has 4x USB 3.0, and has an Ethernet port and built-in dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n. When turned on, the Chromebox features a beautiful interface. It comes with a high-definition camera, a combined microphone, speaker unit, and a remote control. Companies can manage all their meeting rooms using a web-based management console.
One of the things users will notice is that it has a collection of images that updates throughout the day. Sengupta says that with most meeting rooms being windowless, this Chromebox offers a nice alternative. Of course, a scheduling calendar, using Google Calendar is displayed so attendees know when a room is available or occupied.
After an event has begun, Chromebox for Meetings provides high-definition and crisp audio connections. Anyone can join a meeting, no matter what device they have — they just need to have the Google+ Hangouts app installed and a Gmail address. The device supports up to 15 participants and also works well with existing infrastructure through Google’s integration with Vidyo and UberConference.
Google also enables desktop screens to be shared across any meeting. Organizers can go to g.co/present in order to display files from Google Drive.
The entire process is relatively simple: no PINs, complicated URLs to remember, cables or IT support needed.
For those with existing Chromeboxes, you won’t be able to use it to host meetings right now. Sengupta says that you’ll need to purchase a kit that comes with the i7 Chromebox in order to transform it.
Although the ASUS Chromebox is available today, Google said that Dell and HP will also be producing the device. It has also partnered with CDW and Synnex Corporation to handle distribution.
The new Chromebox is available in the US starting today for $999, which includes hardware, software, along with the first year’s management and support fee of $250. Google says that over the next few months, the device will be coming to more countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and the UK.
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