Computers continue to evolve as more and more innovative technology is made available to consumers. Nowadays nearly everyone has their own laptop, PC, or tablet device as well as certain capabilities on their smartphones. New inventions are being introduced every year. Of the latest new devices, one is the micro-desktop pocket sized super computer the size of a pack of gum. Just last month, Asus and Google introduced the Chromebit, which allows you to have computer access anywhere there is a fairly new and compatible TV.
So how does this device work and what can it do? At first glance the Chrombit looks like a USB drive. The small device fits into the HDMI port of your TV, and since most modern television sets and monitors are equipped with HDMI ports, compatibility is a non-issue with this device. Once you have connected your device, you can boot Google’s Chrome OS web browser version that functions as an entire operating system of a computer. However a Bluetooth mouse is needed as is a keyboard along with a proper Wi-Fi connection, otherwise nothing can be done. If you have each of those, you can turn your TV monitor into a computer and browse the web and do just about anything you can do on your browser on your home PC or laptop.
Price vs. Performance
There are some limitations to discuss. The Chrome OS is only a browser so running MAC and Windows applications is not possible, so you won’t be able to run basic programs like Microsoft Office and Photoshop. Intel’s version of the Compute Stick, which is priced at $200 (the Chromebit’s current price tag is $85), has full-on Windows operating system capability equal to that of a regular computer. You may realize that the small size of the computer stick equates to less power. Intel’s stick is hardly as good as a normal computer, but if you just want to be able to access the internet, the Chromebit is a fairly good buy at just $85. The price tag may seem cheaper than what the actual cost is once you have factored in the cost of a mouse, keyboard, power source, and monitor. If you already have these things, buying the stick might be a good idea but you should make sure that you won’t need the device for anything that you can’t do online.
The Chromebit does not have any battery power, so constant power is necessary. If you don’t have a Bluetooth mouse, you likely will need a two-in-one USB dongle so that you can connect both your keyboard and mouse. The Chromebit is intended for cloud-based work and web browsing. Now that many people are using free online Office Apps such as Google Docs and those available by Microsoft, the Chromebit could be a good tool to use when traveling. You can easily use this device in your hotel or conference room while away on business trips.
What’s on the Inside?
The Chromebit utilizes an ARM-based CPU by Chinese chip maker Rockchip. Even though the use of Rockchip technology was intended to cut costs, the computer stick’s speed is no slower than the higher priced versions of the stick powered by Intel Atom processors.
One of the features that makes the Chromebit computer stick something you might want to consider buying is the small size. The Chromebit stands out from the competition in terms of appearance as the Intel Compute Stick is squared-off and industrial looking while the Asus Chromebit has a polished and slicker consumer friendly look. Another feature worthy of consideration is the Chromebit’s ability to store some (but not a lot of) music and video files. The Stick also comes with a one foot HDMI extender cable which makes connecting to a TV or monitor a little easier. In transport, the Chromebit is a neat looking device. However, when you are connected to a power supply with your keyboard and mouse in a spot not intended for computer use, cluttering is bound to happen.
As the Rockchip technology does not take away from everyday web surfing and office use, streaming HD video works pretty well too. Loading videos from the Google Play store could be a little faster, but you won’t be waiting all day to watch your favorite movies. Having several different browser windows open at one time does not pose a problem either, thus with the Chromebit you can complete tasks as necessary. If you have more complicated and intensive tasks, the hardware may be somewhat limited with its cheaper technology. Compared to other sticks, Chromebit’s speed measures up to the competition. The Chromebit boots almost instantly while other brands are known to be a bit slow in booting up.
Should I Buy It?
As laptop prices continue to drop, other computer devices seem to be driven off of the market. However the Asus Chromebit is still much cheaper than a new laptop and does a lot for just $85. Like other online-only Chrome systems, the main drawback is that the stick is not the cheap on-the-go laptop that you can use anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection. Nevertheless the capabilities it has will work for some, particularly those who travel often rather than those who are simply always on the go.