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4.8 out of 5 stars35
4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is my review of the same model, but with 2 gigs less RAM and no keyboard and mouse. Otherwise, the experience is identical, so I thought it may be of help here, too.

This will be a detailed review; I'll include a summary of the software at the start and why you might want this at the bottom.
I've previously owned Google's test/beta Chromebook (the Cr-48) and then got the first generation Samsung Chromebook. My current Chromebook is the Acer C270 and I'm very pleased with it. Hopefully my experience with Chrome devices will make this review useful.

Chrome OS

For those unclear, Chrome OS (which Chromebooks and this Chromebox runs) isn't like Windows. It's designed for web use, so you can't install regular software.
You can use Chrome browser extensions and apps, but not native Windows software. Android app support is coming soon, though this a developing feature and in a preview/beta state right now.
When you're buying a Chrome OS machine, you're buying a super fast, easy-to-use machine that accesses the web. It's for your email, Facebook, YouTube and things like that. You won't generally find sophisticated, PC-like games and you won't be using this machine to run Photoshop or Final Cut Pro. Basically, it's a fast, cheap web browsing machine.

Support & updates

Chrome OS is updated every 6 weeks, with bug fixes and new features. All updates happen in the background and updates are applied when you reboot, so you never need to worry about them.
All Chrome devices get a minimum of 5 years support from Google (from the time the device was introduced), with security and feature updates arriving regularly. Unlike Windows, there is never a charge for software updates.

Security

As normal applications can't be installed on this machine, it can offer extra security. For example, if there's something installed that shouldn't be (like a virus) the Chromebox will reset itself to factory settings. Upon login, your settings will be restored and it'll update to the latest version.
Some plugins are not supported on Chrome OS, however the mainstream things work as expected; Flash is supported, so video sites like iPlayer work just fine. Netflix and YouTube work (via HTML5) but Java is the main problem for some: no Minecraft here.

Speed

Like other Chrome devices, this Chromebox boots in under 10 seconds.

This Chromebox will almost certainly be faster a year from now than it is today. That's because a big part of how a Chrome device is used is opening web pages. As the Chrome browser gets faster at doing that, Chrome devices get the benefits too and speed up over time, as well as gaining features.

Simplicity

If you mess something up and think you can't fix it, just go into the settings and choose Powerwash. It'll reset everything to exactly how it was when it left the factory. Login and all your settings will be downloaded and your device will update to the latest version. It's essentially a fast web browser, so there's nothing to mess up or confuse anyone; this would be great as a first computer, or for someone who isn't very technical.

Getting things done

This is where the big problem is for some people; you can't install normal software packages. You're currently limited to software that's delivered through a browser, though Android applications are coming. That said, would you expect Photoshop to work well on a sub-£200 machine? Keep the price in mind and your expectations should be met. There are also a good amount of applications and tools that work offline for Chrome OS now.
Check the Chrome Web Store for what you need, consider the limitations and you should be fine.

Other drawbacks

Some things don't work how they work on a regular computer. For instance, it's not possible to watch MKV video files with audio (at the time this was written) without converting them. If you upload a video to Google Drive, it'll process it in a way that works though. I do this regularly and it works well.
Printing is different too, as you can't just plug in a printer on Chrome OS. For those that are curious, Google has a service called Cloud Print, which involves connecting your printer to the internet, by using a Wi-Fi enabled printer or using a 'classic' printer by plugging it into a regular machine running Chrome. It's a little awkward, but offers remote printing benefits.

Storage

A key thing about Chrome devices is that they usually come with a 16GB, smaller, faster drive.
SD cards are supported for additional storage and external hard drives should work without a problem. 16 gigabytes of storage is considered very low by modern standards. It's worth considering however that this machine is designed to be on-line and if you're mostly using an on-line storage solution such as Microsoft's One Drive, Dropbox or Google Drive, it's not necessarily a problem at all to not have much local storage.

Google Drive is integrated into the Files application, meaning you can save files directly to your account and access them from other devices, too. Integration for other on-line storage (such as Dropbox) is in development.
As noted earlier, a Chrome device comes with 100GB of Google Drive storage free for two years, if bought new. A second hand device doesn't qualify for this.
If after two years you're using more than whatever the normal free allowance is at that point, you'll still be able to access what you've added, but not add new files that take up space. Existing files will not be deleted.

Though Google's services are featured, this device is perfectly functional if you use it in guest mode and never login.

Hardware specifics

There are four USB ports available for use here, as well as a HDMI and DisplayPort for the monitor. There's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for connectivity, as well as a wired (Ethernet) internet port. There's also the standard headphone/microphone jack, SD card support and a Kensington lock for security.
As is standard, the USB ports will support things like a keyboard, mouse, external headsets, webcams and the like. Certain things do not work via USB, such as printers, which I've already covered. A full list of supported hardware can be found pretty easily via Google.

Hardware capability

This Chromebox uses an Intel Celeron chip.
Celeron is Intel's basic offering, so is intended for moderate computing use. In other words, if you have just a few tabs open, it'll be fast and responsive.
Other configurations are available; a Core i3 (a much faster processor) is offered, if you feel you'll need that. Most people won't, however. It should only really be considered if you almost always have 20+ tabs open, or frequently have HD video streaming, as well as multiple other tabs running, given the increased cost.

Summary

For me, this is the perfect computer; I don't use any specialist software and on my old Windows machine only used Chrome and a media player. This delivers that in a tiny box and is faster and dirt cheap. This should be strongly considered if you just want a simple, crazy fast machine to use. If you need to use specialist applications and the Chrome Web Store doesn't offer usable alternatives though, this is likely not a candidate for your primary computer. However, given the low cost, it might be worth considering it as a second machine for fast web access.
33 comments|43 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 October 2014
This Chromebox is supplied exactly as described. Wireless keyboard and mouse with 1 USB nano receiver, batteries, VESA mounting bracket and screws all included. What a great deal! Keyboard really excellent, mouse adequate, if a little on the small side. Not a complaint, but I think the AmazonBasics Wireless Mouse with Nano Receiver is better, but each to their own. Bear in mind that no drivers can be downloaded to Chrome OS devices so plug and play is the only option.

The other reviews, to date, of this product, are spot on, especially Captain Awesome's for its depth.

I also have a Chromebook history: a Samsung Series 5 550 Wi-Fi Chromebook which has similar technical specifications to the Asus. My reason for buying the Asus Chromebox is to take the pressure off the Chromebook's battery as I use it primarily for streaming from BBC iPlayer and Netflix which is intensive and shortens the life of a laptop's battery.

Plugged in my VGA monitor using Accell B101B-003B UltraAV Display Port with VGA Active Adapter and external speakers to 3.5mm headphone socket and was up and running in minutes. This may be obvious, but this Asus Chromebox does not come with a webcam or mic, so if your tastes run towards social media and video chatting, you may need to buy add-ons. The good thing about this is that the Asus has 4 USB 3.0 ports so plenty of room to add stuff, not forgetting that one of these is being used for the supplied keyboard/mouse combo.

My advice? If you need a replacement desktop (my 10 year old Medion Windoze XP was really struggling) and already have the peripherals, spend the small amount more for this 4GB RAM model rather than the 2GB version, and unless you really need the i3 or i7 chipsets (and why would you?) buy this one to save money.

For Chromebook/box aficionados, this tiny computer exceeds 12000 running Octane 2.0 on Google Chrome OS Version 39.0.2171.25 beta (64-bit).

If you know little about the Chrome Operating System, this means it's very quick.

If you need to print from the Chrome OS you will need to know how printers work with it, so you will need to do some research first about Google Cloud Print, (I have an Epson Expression HOME XP 415 Colour Multifunctional Printer which prints, copies and scans and was easy to set up with my Chromebook/Box and also my non-wireless desktop dinosaur) or be prepared to be an idiot who has bought something thinking that it's the same as a MS or Mac product when it's not. For me, It's better. For you? Your decision.

Go here: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!categories/chromebook-central

It is an excellent resource and I recommend it highly, as do I this brilliant Chromebox.
0Comment|27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 January 2015
What a little cracker the Chromebox is. It is perfect for the many people who simply want a computer to browse the web, do email, listen to music, watch online video, or to create documents or spreadsheets.
You never have to worry about updates. It does it all itself.
You never need to worry about expensive anti virus software. It does not need it.
You never need to worry about a disc failure trashing all your documents and photos. They are all stored securely in Googles cloud.

Hardware wise the Chromebox uses similar components to a low end laptop, but because the ChromeOS does not have the bloat of Windows 8, this modest hardware positively flies. Windows pop up instantly and video plays flawlessly.

ChromeOS is really easy to use. A simple application launcher comes pre loaded with everything you need. Almost all the ChromeOS apps are simply links to web pages such as Google Docs. Because all the hard work is done by Google's servers the Chromebox does not need much processing power.

I am using mine with my existing VGA monitor. The Chromebox has two video outputs, an HDMI port, and a Displayport socket. I therefore bought this HDMI TO VGA with Audio Adapter which is really cheap and neat

The supplied keyboard and mouse is fine. No setup is required. Just plug the receiver into a usb port and switch on. Or you can use any USB keyboard or mouse you may own. Although the Chromebox supports Bluetooth, it is not enabled by default, so if you had a Bluetooth keyboard or mouse I think you would need a different keyboard to get started.

Importing files from an SD card, a Flash drive or an external disc drive is dead easy. Just plug in the drive and the file manager pops up, then cut and paste into Google Drive.

It is also easy to import files from your existing computer. All you have to do is get a google account and log into 'Google Drive' (https://drive.google.com/drive) and press the 'New' button to upload files. Anything imported into 'Google Drive' will be available to all your ChromeOS or Android devices. For your existing music files import them into 'Google Play' (https://play.google.com/music/listen).

Intel also provide a migration tool for Apple and Windows http://www.omgchrome.com/intels-new-easy-migration-apps-makes-switching-chromebooks-simple/ I have not tried it myself as migration was easy enough without it.

ChromeOS does have its limitations. It is not possible to attach an external DVD or Blu-Ray drive and watch films. Nor is it possible to install Windows games or software.
However there are Google equivalents for most common needs.
Use Google Docs instead of Office (yes they are compatible).
Use Google Hangouts instead of Skype (Hangouts is available on Apple iPhone)

If you are worried about the security aspects of storing all your documents and photos in the cloud, then enable Google 2 stage authentication from your Google account page. Only logins from designated devices will then be permitted, so a hacker could not access your documents even if they had your username and password.

I can think of several people who really ought to ditch their old computers and convert to a Chromebox.
33 comments|14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 1 April 2015
Ive done away completely with my old PC running windows and now use these as both my home machines and office. Ive gone over to google drive from dropbox as well. Cant fault it. Does everything my old PC did but actually better: boots faster, google docs etc is so much better than the MS office software. The only downside is no high end games but if you are into that sort of thing get a console. Cant fault it really. Excellent.
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on 25 April 2015
Lovely little computer, and refreshingly foolproof. As an 88 year old man I can browse the Web, write documents and e-mail, and generally enjoy the Internet. Although I miss some of the programs from Windows, being free of the various errors that are part and parcel of Windows is very good.
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on 14 May 2015
I've bought three of these to use as OpenElec XBMC/Kodi units and they've been running solidly for a couple months.
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on 25 June 2015
Just great - I had low expectations from the machine but have been delighted, and now it's my main computer at home.

Quiet - there's a fan, but it doesn't turn on very often
Low power consumption - like 12 Watts or something crazy depending on what you use it for
Runs very smoothly
The software updates regularly
Boots in seconds
It's never crashed
Small footprint on your desk, or you can use the VESA mount (I think it's called that...)
There is an excellent ssh client if you want to use as a dev platform - you can even run a simple dev environment on the machine itself
You get free storage from Google
Works great with my external DAC
Audio quality is very good

Really pleased with Asus and Google on this machine - no complaints whatsoever.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I bought this to go along with my Chromebook laptop and the more I use them both I find the less is my need for Windows. I doubt if I'll ever buy any sort of computer again except for Chrome. So simple to set up, plug in the cables, switch on, sign in to your Google account and there is everything just as you like it from your account details in the cloud. Favourites/bookmarks etc all there instantly and ready to go.
And another great advantage is it is *fast*. Most of my time these days is spent browsing, plus online shopping, and online banking etc., and this together with the Chrome laptop fills all my needs.
Highly recommended for anyone who mainly use their computers in the way I have described.
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on 3 October 2015
Having installed Chrome-OS (an old version) as a virtual machine I liked what I saw and had pondered for a while about getting a chromebook/box.
I finally found an excuse........we have a smart-ish TV, a slightly smarter blu-ray player and a Tivo box. All fine but but they all have limitations. None of them allow full internet browsing, just the "apps" that came with these boxes. Having signed up for Amazon Prime, I was somewhat annoyed to discover the "Amazon Prime Video" app on the blue-ray player (neither TV or Tivo provide this) is out of date but the update is not available for our player. Grr!
Also, we have a Synology Disk Station which stores my entire CD collection (stored in FLAC format), photos and various videos. The LG Blue-Ray will access the our NAS device via our local network but navigation is a pain in the posterior.
A cheap chromebox seemed the answer. This one was not very cheap at ~£200 but it came with a chrome wireless keyboard and wireless mouse which seemed good things to have.
I got it up and running within about 10mins of unpacking things and screwing the VESA mount included with the box to the back of the TV.
Ok, tried browsing to Amazon and watching a Prime Video.....great picture and sound performance!
Accessing the Synology box was a doddle too. Its possible to do this just through the browser but I also installed a free app (File System for Windows) from the Google chrome store that lets me access Windows (well, SMB shares to be precise) via the Chrome-OS file browser. This caused some head scratching but after realising that port 139 was the one to use and that a share on the NAS was simply referred to by the shared folder name all was well.............saving the profile gives, effectively, what in Windows would be a network drive.

It's early days and I'm still exploring what I can do with the box but its all good so far and I'm very pleased with my purchase.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 January 2015
This is brilliant for Kodi/xbmc, super fast and compensates for a rubbish Internet connection. Reformatted to dual boot Chrome and openelec, cheapo infrared remote control added. Boots within seconds, runs silently and even at full blast, hardly using any RAM.
11 comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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