Many businesses are using videoconferencing technology as a way of preventing individuals from spending too much company time traveling to and from meetings. A well designed video conferencing system can allow a meeting to take place across multiple locations and almost be as effective as taking place in the same room. However, if the IT involved is troublesome or unable to connect, this make meeting participants frustrated and less likely to use the technology going forwards. In order to take advantage of one of the changes in trend, in February 2014 Google launched a new product called the Chromebox for meetings. As you might expect from the title, the Chromebox for meetings is based on Googles Chromebox computer, which runs Chrome OS, the same operating system that is found running the successful Chromebook computers. Essentially, the Chromebox takes the computer part of a Chromebook and removes the screen and keyboard. Chrome OS is an ideal operating system for a computer designed for videoconferencing as it is simple, fast to boot and shut down. Chrome OS has low hardware requirements and runs smoothly on relatively slow processors, plus it is essentially maintenance free, which for many organisations is a very useful benefit. The original Chromebox for meetings cost $999.
Google have today announced that it is releasing an upgraded version of the Chromebox for meetings. The new product features an improved camera, a better microphone and speaker package and a number of detail enhancements to the screen sharing and dual screen displays as used by the Chromebox. The improvements to the camera include providing it with a pan, tilt and zoom function, which means it can be pointed at different people in the room. There are now two microphones and the software improvements allow dual screens to be used plus a full screen mode when screen sharing. This combination allows the Chromebox to easily share presentations during a videoconference.
Other software improvements include adding management controls to the admin panel, which will allow people to see what devices are online or offline and if necessary, delegate management of the call. However, the downside of the improved functionality is a price hike: unfortunately, the Chromebox for meetings has doubled in price and it's now $1,999. For the money, customers receive the Chromebox, microphones, camera and the first year of management and support feed, but must provide their own monitors.