We routinely talk about all manner of devices around here, and it used to be the case that those devices varied in not only internal stats, but also form factor.
Chromebooks, Chromeboxes, Chromebases, Chromebits, upcoming tablets, detachables and convertibles have all been a subject of conversation here at Chrome Unboxed.
Since I began making videos almost 5 years ago, I’ve watched lots of devices come and go.
And, if I’m honest, some of the form factors were never serious competitors in the space. The Chromebit and Chromebase come to mind. While somewhat nifty, I think they served way too small of a segment of an already niche market.
Tablets and detachables have yet to see the light of day while convertibles and clamshells are the current darlings of the Chrome OS universe.
Chromeboxes Were Different, I Thought
Chromeboxes, like their Chromebook counterparts, were in a more practical and widely-accepted class. Similar to the desktop/laptop dichotomy that exists for both Windows users and Mac OS users, Chrome OS seems equally at home on a full-fledged desktop as it does on a laptop.
I personally loved having a work-ready desktop Chromebox as my daily driver. I enjoyed the simplicity of walking up to my desk, moving the mouse and being ready to roll.
Nothing to get out of the bag and hook up. Nothing else to do. It was always there waiting.
Granted, there’s something to be said for having the Samsung Chromebook Pro and really using this device any and everywhere for almost any task, but I do miss having my Chromebox there waiting on me every morning.
Why Did I Abandon It?
For me, it was simply a choice based on Android Apps. I knew the time was coming soon when I’d work Android apps into my daily workflow. As I’ve done that, having a Chromebox that can’t access those apps just wasn’t an option anymore.
If ASUS would make a Skylake version of its popular Chromebox, I’d grab one immediately. The ease of upgrade was its main draw, and I loved having it as a work device on a daily basis.
So Where Are The New Chromeboxes?
For the answer to that question, I have no answer. We do have clear references to a Kaby Lake Chromebox in the works (‘Fizz’), but recent investigation leads to no new conclusions about who is making it or when it might be available.
But the bigger issue to me has little to do with who is making ‘Fizz’. The bigger issue is the lack of other Chromeboxes in the queue.
With all the swirling info on new Chromebooks, Chrome tablets, and detachables, the tried-and-true Chromebox seems to have been left in the shadows.
It is unclear as to why this is. Perhaps the transition to Android inclusion is causing manufacturers to hold back for the time being. After all, many Android apps would be tough to use without a touchscreen, so perhaps we’re in a waiting period during this transition.
Perhaps sales weren’t good enough. It seems the ASUS Chromebox sold relatively well, so it doesn’t seem like that is the case.
Maybe the more profitable play is the Chromebook for now. If one form factor sells better than another, it is hard to expect a manufacturer to continue making the less-profitable device.
A Chromebox’s Worth
What’s interesting is the varied uses Chromeboxes could (and still do) embody. As AOpen has done, a low-powered Chromebox could serve as a kiosk-type device and a reasonable price for signage, interactive media, or point of sales system.
But higher-powered Chromeboxes serve as great machines for desktop scenarios ranging from living rooms to hotel business centers to corporate desks. With their small size and myriads of ports, they are supremely flexible and usually easy to upgrade.
While it is hard to understand why they’ve seemingly gone missing, it isn’t hard to consider why they are such a valuable devices.
So, if you are reading this and have used or have considered a Chromebox, hit us up in the comments. I love this form factor and hate the fact that it seems they have been largly forgotten.
If you have ties to a device maker, please listen to your consumers! They want these devices. They want new versions of favorites or new companies to make similar products.
They want more Chromeboxes. Will you deliver?
We all collectively hope so.