Asus has officially thrown its hat into the Chromebox ring, announcing a family of Haswell-powered small form factor PCs based on Google's Linux-powered Chrome OS software.
'The ASUS Chromebox offers the simplicity, security and speed of Chrome OS in the most compact and powerful Chrome device to date,' crowed Felix Lin, director of product management, at Asus' partner Google. 'Perfect for home, the classroom or the office, Chromebox is designed for the way we use computers today.'
Asus has indicated an intention to offer the machines at a low cost in order to tempt households that have yet to join the information revolution - or who fancy a secondary system for the living room - and pledges that the first and most basic model will cost just $179. For that, buyers can expect an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 16GB M.2 next-generation form-factor (NGFF) solid-state drive, gigabit Ethernet, dual-band 801.22a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and a peak power draw of 65W.
Higher up the range, but without pricing details just yet, are models with 4GB of DDR3 memory and a choice of Core i3-4010U or Core i7-4600U processor. All models, meanwhile, will be based on a 124mm x 124mm x 42mm chassis and include a two-in-one card reader, four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity, the wired Ethernet socket, analogue audio connections and a Kensington security point. At launch, each will also come with a free upgrade to 100GB of storage on the Google Drive platform.
Even at its suggested pricing, Asus may struggle to interest buyers: while the low-cost Chromebook laptop family has been selling relatively well, Samsung's attempt at a Chromebox from 2012 met with extremely poor sales - at, admittedly, a higher $329 launch price.
UK pricing and availability for the Asus Chromebox family has not yet been confirmed.