Actual, real-life meetings are just so passé! In fact I have hardly met up with any of the people I work with in person -- we are living in the digital age, man! But the likes of Skype and FaceTime show that there is still an interest, even a need, for virtual face-to-face time, and this is particularly true for businesses. Conference calls are easy to set up on the phone, but there are times when it really does help to see what’s going on at the other end. Today Google takes the wraps off its solution: Chromebox for meetings.
As you would expect from Google, and probably guess from the name, this is a box running ChromeOS. Powered by a 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor, there are four USB 3.0 ports as well as HDMI and DisplayPort++ connections, and network connectivity is provided by an Ethernet port as well as an 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi adaptor. Also provided is an HD camera, a mic and speaker combo, and a remote control.
It is no secret that Microsoft is feeling threatened by Chromebooks and Chrome OS. A series of controversial ads which disparage the pair has already proved that. But when will the software giant stop playing the same old broken record that implies only Windows PCs are good enough to get real work done and Chromebooks are not?
Microsoft downplays Chromebooks due to their alleged inability to get "much done" without an Internet connection and without access to its own Office suite. This is the theme that Microsoft has used (and repeatedly abused before) to pitch Windows 8.1 in a new video advert. Seriously? How can a company that prides itself for its cloud services use those two arguments in 2014? Is that not the definition of hypocrisy?
One of the most endearing things about Chrome OS is that it is very secure. Say what you want about it being nothing more than a browser. In reality, it is a Linux distribution where the user cannot install native software locally. The web-based nature of the OS makes it ideal for banking or accessing secure data. After all, without the possibility of installing software, the computer should be immune to malware.
I should watch my words because, the word "immune" simply makes the malware writers start salivating. After all, the belief that anything is 100-percent safe is the most dangerous thing of all. Not to mention, recently discovered rogue Chrome Extensions can be viewed as a form of malware. With that said, Google is challenging the world's best hackers to try and find holes in its Chromebooks. The carrot for which it dangles is a very healthy $2.71828 million!
The Chromebook platform is steadily growing and one of the latest arrivals in this market comes from Toshiba. The hardware maker unveiled its offering during the recent CES 2014 show in Las Vegas, but the notebook wasn’t available at the time of the reveal.
Now the Toshiba Chromebook is up for pre-order on Amazon for $279.99. The device boasts an Intel Celeron 2955U 1.4 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM, a 16 GB SSD for storage and 13.3-inch screen. The company promises nine hours of battery life.
If you aren't familiar with the saga, the HP Chromebook 11 was greeted with much fanfare, only to be pulled from the Google Play store thanks to an overheating charger. This charger saga garnered more attention than actual incidents.
Google announced a new charger to replace the faulty model, rolling out free replacements to those who purchased the little laptop. Now, with a new charger firmly in place, the Android maker has returned the device to its Play Store.
It's Consumer Electronics Show 2014 Day 0, and we have hands-on with new Acer and Toshiba Chromebooks -- and both share the same flaw: Yes, flaw. Not enough memory, like HP Chromebook 11, among other newer models. I know margins are tight on these things, but how much more costly really would be 4GB? I can say from absolute experience that 2GB simply isn't enough, particularly if the objective is Chromebook replacing Mac or Windows PC.
Shared memory takes a good chunk out of that 2GB, let alone Chrome running atop Linux. What are these manufacturers thinking? One foot in the Chrome OS outdoors, but rest of body inside Windows? Because Chromebook with 2GB of RAM, even running a Haswell processor, stretches to replace a Windows PC. Make that 4 gigs, and the experience can be as good or better. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, you can stop laughing now. I can hear you all the way down in San Diego.
Consumer Electronics Show 2014 starts next week, and that means tech companies tripping over one another to get the goods front and center early. No one really waits for Day One anymore, and Acer picks Day -4 to announce another touchscreen Chromebook -- this one in Moonstone White. Moonstone? Does it light up the Google cloud at night?
The white C720P joins the darker sibling launched in late November. Touch is the C720P's defining characteristic for the price. Google is the only other company selling a touchscreen Chromebook, and it starts much higher -- $1,299. Anyone looking for the feature on a budget laptop running Chrome OS, Acer C720P is it.
While the percentage of incidents was rather low, Google was forced to pull the HP Chromebook 11 from the market due to an overheating charger. Since then, the company has come out with a replacement model, and has begun shipping them out to customers who were affected.
Though the notebook has not yet reappeared in the Play store, it has now gone back up for sale via Amazon. The device is once again listed as "in stock", selling for the $279 that it previously went for.
Besides girth, Oprah Winfrey and I have something else in common -- we both like to share our favorite things. At the end of every year, I like to reflect on some of my favorite tech products.
This was a very wild year for me as most of the things on my list changed the way I both interact with and think about computers. It contains both hardware and software. So, without further ado, please read on for my list.
As someone who has lived through a home fire, I am very anxious about it. Any time I smell a neighbor's fireplace, I will investigate. I am still haunted by the night that I lost all of my belongings -- standing barefoot in the street watching the brave firemen fight the blaze.
When Google stopped sales of the HP Chromebook 11 due to a faulty charger, I was faced with a major conundrum. I love using that computer, but now I was scared to charge it. Even though Google suggested charging it with any other microUSB charger, I was still too concerned to leave it charging unattended. Plus, when I did use a different charger, I got a warning message that the charger was underpowered and charging would take longer. Finally today, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announces an official recall of the dangerous charger.
Things are starting to get festive, and that means there's also a lot going on. This past week has been quite a busy one! It might not come as a surprise, but the figures are in -- Windows 8.1 is not performing anywhere near as well as Windows 7 in terms of sales. Part of the reason for the slower adoption could be the Start screen and the absence of the Start menu. There has been some debate here at BetaNews about the possibility that the Start menu could make a return. Brian is very much opposed to the idea, I think it's probably a good idea, particularly for business users, while Wayne showed us how to get the Start menu back right now.
The backlash against NSA surveillance continues, and now Microsoft, Apple, Google and a number of other big names have joined forces and written to President Obama asking for reform. Joe was not impressed. To help protect user accounts, Microsoft beefed up security.
Microsoft has been busy attacking the Chromebook recently, trotting out spokesman Ben Rudolph to handpick "people on the street" to tell him why the Google-branded laptop wouldn't work for them, and hiring Pawn Stars to call the notebook "a brick". The problem for Microsoft is this -- many of its biggest OEM partners, including HP and Acer, are producing hardware running the rival operating system.
Now Dell is the latest hardware maker, generally associated with Windows, to experiment with alternatives. No, Dell isn't abandoning Windows, just cheating on it with Chrome OS. The Texas-based company has strayed before, producing Android tablets, but this is its first flirtation with a Chromebook.
A few weeks ago Google's Chromebook 11 was removed from sale after an overheating problem was found with some chargers. No recall was ever announced, but users were advised against using the supplied charger in favour of another Micro-USB charger of their own. In fact, both Google and HP have been very quiet since the announcement, but now a new Chromebook 11 charger has appeared in Google Play.
The charger is not currently available; it is listed as 'Coming soon'. It also has a $19.99 price tag associated with it (or £14.99 if you're in the UK). This is a very simple piece of equipment, as illustrated by the short and sweet product description: "Keep your HP Chromebook 11 topped up with an extra charger."
Just over a week ago, Microsoft lashed out at Google with its latest installment in the Scroogled campaign, hiring Pawn Stars to belittle the Chromebook platform. Reaction ranged from positive to negative, but it can't be argued that it did get attention. Despite those negatives, Microsoft has no intention of backing down, and actually added another video to the archive today.
This time, the company has enlisted the aid of its popular spokesperson Ben Rudolph, "Ben the PC Guy", of "Smoked by Windows Phone" fame. Microsoft sent Rudolph out on the streets of Venice, California with a Chromebook in his hands and a camera crew in tow.
Despite the fact that I love Microsoft's recent Scroogled advertisement (which claims a Chromebook is not a laptop), I am a huge fan of Chrome OS. It is a stable, safe and affordable computing platform; it is based on Linux after all. By offering computers as low as $199, many Americans can achieve modern computer ownership -- something that may not have been possible before.
Speaking of the $199 Chromebook, Acer was the pioneer in that pricing. The computer manufacturer's C7 series of Chromebooks has been a heaven-sent offering of value. Today, the company announces it is continuing to deliver value with the all-new C720P -- a touchscreen Chromebook for a rock-bottom price of $299. Holy moly.