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Google Chromebox Mac Mini Clone

July 2, 2012 - Dave Hecei
There is no love lost between Google and Apple. There is even less, at least by all appearances, between Samsung and Apple. Google recently partnered with Samsung to put together the next generation of Google Internet appliances. Samsung has created some cool looking hardware called the Chromebook and Chromebox. As the name implies, the Chromebook is a notebook and the Chromebox is a desktop.

I call these devices mainly because they don’t have a traditional operating system. Google create the Chrome OS back in 2009. Essentially it is an OS based on Linux but you don’t see the OS. The only thing the user could see was a web browser, which of course was Google Chrome.

I’m not exactly sure of the current version of Chrome OS, but starting with OS 19, the user interface started looking more like a traditional ‘windows’ type system. Gone was the single web browser window and in was a windowing environment. Now there was windows manager, taskbar, app launcher, etc.

The new 2nd generation Chromebook is a nice improvement over the first model. Samsung does make good hardware. While the notebook is interesting, it’s not new. The Chromebox is something completely new. For anyone familiar with Apple products the Chromebox looks just like the original Apple TV, or similar to the latest Mac mini. The Box practically has the same dimensions as the latest mini. It’s 0.1 inches smaller, in each dimension, and 0.1 pounds lighter. Other than that they look identical.

Because of this, it is possible to think that the Chromebox might compete with the mini. This might be possible for a small selection of users, but the mini is a full computer, while the Chromebox is an appliance. Inside the Chromebox is a dual-core Celeron processor, 4GB RAM, and 16GB of flash storage. The lack of storage is the only thing keeping this box from being dangerous. It does, however, have plenty of ports to connect to monitors and other peripherals.

The other thing is Apps. There is a good selection of Apps available for Chrome OS, but nothing like what is available for Mac or Windows. That said, there is plenty of work that this little box can do. The ideal candidates for getting one of these are libraries, schools, cafes, campgrounds, and businesses who have committed to Google Docs. Most of the work that you can do on these Chrome OS devices requires the user to be constantly connected to the Internet. This is not true for all of the Apps. Google has made it possible to do some work offline.

The Chromebox is a decent looking desktop device. It may even become something that the home user would be interested in. As it stands right now it could be used as a simple Internet device for emailing, surfing the web, social networking (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Voice, etc.), basic office applications, and entertainment.

What would be interesting to see if Samsung takes this box and beefs it up a bit and puts Windows on it. The price would obviously have to increase, but then they would have a desktop that would compete directly with the Mac mini. At least it would give the lawyers something more to fight about.


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