Search giant Google has developed a small USB dongle that turns any screen it’s connected to into a Chrome PC, as unveiled on the official Google Chrome blog yesterday.
It’s called the Chromebit, it’s definitely not an April Fool’s prank – it’s a full-blown PC powered by a quad-core processor, complete with WiFi, Bluetooth and an external USB port.
Once plugged into a TV, it uses Chrome OS to give people access to all of Google’s services like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, YouTube and more, so long as it’s connected to the internet.
If you read the low-cost laptop roundup we published earlier this week, you’ll know that we were impressed with Chrome’s operating system, and can totally see it being used to run the day-to-day admin functions of small businesses at the fraction of the cost of a Windows desktop PC or even notebook.
That a full-blown PC is now contained in something the size of a memory stick, and costs just $100 (slightly less than R1200 when converted directly), is very cool. Gizmodo expects it to be available “this summer”, which of course means during South Africa’s winter if we’re lucky.
But even cooler is that Google hasn’t just built it with bottom-shelf hardware; the Chromebit comes with AC-class Wifi (also known as Gigabit WiFi), 2GB of RAM, 16GB of solid-state storage and a brilliant swivel that allows the Chromebit to fit into just about any HDMI port. It really is a cleverly-engineered piece of tech.
Google isn’t the first company to try this, though, as Intel has been working on a similar concept, just with Windows 8.1.
Intel’s project, called Intel Compute Stick, is also due in the next few months but is expected to cost in the region of $150 (around R1 800) due to more storage (32GB), the Windows license and expandable storage options by way of a microSD card slot.
Any way you slice it, this is good news for people looking for low-cost computers. We’ve requested official comment from Google’s local representatives and will update when we hear back.