"The Intel Celeron processor that powers the Chromebox might not exactly set pulses racing, but seeing as the computer runs almost entirely off the web, you don’t really need the latest CPU"
It looks like a cross between an obese MacBook and a hard drive, but in fact Samsung’s Chromebox is a very clever – and affordable – way of spreading awareness of Google’s Chrome operating system.
What we like best
Samsung have fully committed to exploring the possibilities of Google Chrome (see their innovative Chromebook laptop), and with that commitment comes an interesting approach to design.
The Chromebox’s colours and shapes are smooth and clinical, with the only concession to quirky taste being the circular Chrome logo in the top-left corner of the box. The rest of that side of the device is kept in matte black, while the sides are aluminium grey.
But the most important thing about this mini-desktop is, of course, its operating system, Google Chrome. Chrome has been billed as a super-quick and bloat-free computing platform, thanks to its reliance on internet-based features such as cloud storage, and the Chromebox is the first ever desktop computer running on it.
The good news is that Chrome OS has improved markedly since its launch last year. Its main criticism was the over-reliance on a working internet connection, something that has been addressed with the Chromebox (which will be used as a stationary device anyway). There is better access to offline documents, and you can browse your files and folders without having to be online (you’ll have to be online to edit them, however).
There’s a very impressive array of ports on the rear of the box – one strength of the Chromebox is its compatibility with video outputs. Using the DisplayPorts, users can connect the box to their TV screens via HDMI or VGA adapters, and there are six USB 2.0 ports, which is a lot considering the whole box is only 7.6 square millimeters in size.
The Intel Celeron processor that powers the Chromebox might not exactly set pulses racing, but seeing as the computer runs almost entirely off the web, you don’t really need the latest CPU. All office tasks are performed smoothly, and boot-up and shut-down times are satisfyingly short.
The low price point (£280) is an intelligent move, and likely to make the Samsung Chromebox attractive to small offices and schools.
What we like least
No matter the price tag, a desktop computer these days needs at least 300Gb of hard drive storage – the Chromebox, sadly, only has 16Gb.
Granted, the hard drive is of the lightning-quick SSD variety, but still, 16Gb isn’t a lot whichever way you look at it.
Having lots of USB ports is great, but it doesn’t count for much when you want to connect external devices and it doesn’t work. Considering you’ll have to use at least two ports for your keyboard and mouse, that leaves four ports for things like a webcam or external hard drives.
Trying to use a webcam’s in-built microphone proves frustrating, as there is no USB mic support with Chrome OS yet.
Samsung have stepped up their efforts to bring Google Chrome OS to the masses. The idea of running your computer off the internet is only logical, yet many people will hesitate to get behind it fully – things like a big hard drive and complete offline access to your files still have their attraction and it will take another iteration of Chrome OS to completely win everyone over, but thanks to a nifty processor, good connectivity and an realistic price tag, the Samsung Series 3 Chromebox is a step in the right direction.
Today's best deal
Intel Celeron Processor B840
Intel HD Graphics shared with System Memory
Hard Drive Storage
16 Gb Solid-state drive
2W Mono speaker
1 x Headphone and mic
6 x USB 2.0
1 x RJ-45
1 x DVI
Weight & Size
(W) 193 mm x (H) 193 mm x (D) 33.5 mm
10/100/1000 Gb Ethernet LAN
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