There’s a reason we don’t make many videos about Chromeboxes: they are all basically the same. That’s both a good and bad thing, I suppose, but at the end of the day, any Chromebox we talk about is a collection of internal specs and external ports. Some are better looking than others, but they all provide roughly the same functionality across the board and provide a great ChromeOS experience without any of the external factors we have to talk about in a Chromebook.
This year, ASUS released a new Chromebox with a wireless charging base on the top, but apart from that, there’s little innovation in this space. Acer’s take this time around is to not innovate the Chromebox CXI5 as much as it is to innovate the thing you’ll use it with. In this case, that thing is the Add-in-One montor/dock that ships with their new Chromebox, and it presents an interesting option.
The premise is simple: with a Chromebox, you’ll need a monitor, webcam, speakers and a place to put the Chromebox itself. The Add-in-One tackles this with a slot on the back of the monitor that allows you to simply slide in the CXI5 Chromebox, hook it up, and get going. The model we looked at was a 24-inch version, but Acer says there will be other sizes down the road along with a version that will have a rotating display, too.
It all works the way you’d expect, too, and this setup offers enterprise or education customers to deploy a bunch of these devices with basically no downtime if/when a monitor has an issue. When the issue arises, you simply pull out the Chromebox, swap monitor docks, and you’re up and running with ease. It’s a cool concept that I’m not totally sure about just yet, but I think there’s room for this sort of thing in situations where quite a few are in use in one space.
For me, a simple Chromebox is fine, but I could see where some of you may want more of an all-in-one feel and this Add-in-One from Acer gets you there with a modular take on the whole concept. It doesn’t feel as finished or pristine as the HP Chromebase 22, but it’s easier to work with if something goes wrong, and for the right audience, that could be a very interesting thing.