AOPEN may not be a household name in the PC world but chances are good that you’ve crossed paths with the Acer Group company at some point in time. Specializing in digital signage and scalable kiosk solutions, AOPEN has been an industry leader for more than two decades. Powering kiosks, workstations, digital signage, and more for thousands of enterprise customers, AOPEN has seen the shift to cloud-based computing solutions and embraced ChromeOS through various Chromeboxes, Chromebases, and even ChromeOS tablet solutions.
AOPEN established its relationship with Google and the ChromeOS team back in 2015 to design and deploy secure, low-cost solutions for companies that needed flexible, lightweight hardware for digital signage and consumer kiosks. That relationship led to devices like the AOPEN Chromebase and Chromebox Mini that we reviewed way back in 2017. AOPEN continued driving forward in the ChromeOS space with new Chromeboxes and AIO devices over the past couple of years.
Last week, AOPEN unveiled its latest Mini PC, and this tiny box is the most “Flexible” device ever to grace the ChromeOS space. Why flexible? Well, the all-new AOPEN ACE Mini isn’t a standard Chromebox. Instead, this Mini PC is a customizable Intel-based solution that can run a variety of operating systems based on customers’ specific needs. The official OS list includes Windows 10, 11, Ubuntu Linux, and ChromeOS Flex. That’s right. This is the first device to market that will actually support and offer ChromeOS Flex out of the box.
I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with the team from AOPEN and learn a bit more about the new lineup of flexible Mini PC solutions. The ACE Mini is the smallest device in the new “ACE” series which also includes the ACE Plus, ACE Max, and ultra-durable ACE Xtreme. We’ll have more to share on the specifics of these devices next week and hopefully, we’ll have a review unit in hand before the ACE series actually hits shelves. What I can share are the first official product images of the ACE Mini and tell you a bit about who this device is designed for. Check out these up-close shots of the tiny, albeit formidable AOPEN ACE Mini.
At just under 5″ wide and less than 4.5″ inches deep, the ACE Mini comes in smaller than your standard Chromebox and is housed in a rugged chassis with a large heat sink and shield on top of the device. This Mini PC is designed to mount to the rear of a display or other discrete location while offering full control of a kiosk or workstation. Because security is of the utmost importance in the enterprise sector, the ACE Mini does not come with built-in Wi-Fi by default on the non-ChromeOS Flex version. Instead, you’ll find a RJ45 LAN port on the back that supports Gigabit speeds. Users that purchase the pre-configured ChromeOS Flex model will get Wi-Fi included. Non-ChromeOS users can request a Wi-Fi module to be added at the time of purchase.
The AOPEN goal is to solve high-priority trends in a post-pandemic world, providing solutions ready for scale. From digital signage and outdoor needs to video walls and kiosks, AOPEN ACE models cater to multiple use cases.-AOPEN team
This is solid-looking hardware so far as these devices go but where the ACE Mini shines is the flexibility to offer multiple OS configurations. While many businesses still rely on legacy Windows applications and solutions, others lean heavily into the Linux environment. Then you can the companies that have embraced the crowd and utilize Chrome devices and ChromeOS to deploy and manage kiosks and other workplace solutions. Instead of being tied to just ChromeOS, the ACE Mini gives users the ability to choose the best operating system for their solution, and ChromeOS Flex is the perfect alternative to a full-blown ChromeOS device.
I am going out on a limb here but I would wager a bet that the ACE Mini with ChromeOS Flex will also support Linux applications via the Crostini environment. I will confirm that presumption when we get the ACE Mini here in the office but this could be one of the most flexible Flex devices available. It is certainly the first PC to offer ChromeOS Flex as an option out of the box and that’s awesome. You can sign up for updates on the ACE Mini and the entire ACE lineup at the link below and stay tuned for more updates next week.