Google announces new Chrome devices in a variety of form factors

Asus Flip
Credit: Google

I don't have the hard data but my sense is that Google's Chromecast is a hit. In case you're not familiar, Chromecast is a $35 dongle that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV and from there receives content 'cast' to it from a mobile device or a browser.

So I was really surprised yesterday when Google announced Chromebit. This is another dongle, but this one is running a full copy of ChromeOS. Google doesn't have a lot to say about it:

This summer, ASUS will launch a new type of Chrome device: the Chromebit. Smaller than a candy bar, the Chromebit is a full computer that will be available for less than $100. By simply plugging this device into any display, you can turn it into a computer. It’s the perfect upgrade for an existing desktop and will be really useful for schools and businesses.

This one baffles me. It doesn't make sense for Google to introduce a competitor to the Chromecast. The Chromebit has Bluetooth so I guess the idea is you plug it into your TV and control it via Bluetooth mice and keyboards. Isn't that what everyone wants: a mouse and keyboard on their coffee table and browsing the web from 10' away? No? There must be another angle and I'm just not seeing it. Hopefully Google will elaborate on the usefulness of the Chromebit before it ships this summer. For now, Engadget has a bit more to say about it.

If you're looking for something a bit more complete the Asus Flip looks interesting. This is a 10" Chromebook with a 1280x800 touch screen that folds back to turn the device into a tablet, or at least a tablet form-factor (the fact that it's only 15mm thick should help here). It'll sell for $249 when it comes out later this spring. It'll be interesting to see how well ChromeOS works in a more or less pure tablet format.

If you're penny pinching, the last two new Chromebooks could fit the bill. Both the Haier Chromebook 11 and Hisense Chromebook will retail for just $149. They seem like pretty similar devices; both have 11.6" screens (1366x768) and are powered by a Rockchip RK3288 1.8 GHz processor. It seems like the primary difference is where they are being sold. The Haier will be available from Amazon and the Hisense from Walmart

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