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Google looks to redefine online meetings

Posting in Technology
 
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Google has already changed how you watch online video through your TV, with Chromecast, and redefined the laptop, with Chromebook. 

Now "Chromebox for meetings" is Google's answer to better video conferencing. 

The video conferencing package, Chromebox for meetings, combines Google+ Hangouts and Google App and starts at $999. It comes with an Asus Chromebox with a Intel Core i7 processor, a high-definition camera, a combined microphone and speaker unit and a remote control. It will also carry a $250 annual management and support fee. 

Of course, you can also get the Asus Chromebox by itself for $179, "a low-end Chromebook minus the screen and keyboard," as Time puts it. Also, an HP Chromebox will be available later this year.

But the idea is that Chromebox can be used to improve the video conference.

One of the most appealing features of Chromebox for meetings is the ease of use. As Google explains:"click the remote once and you’re instantly in the meeting. No more complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs. Share your laptop screen wirelessly, no need for any cords and adaptors."

Another benefit of the service, as one commenter who has used the service internally at Google explained on Ycombinator, is how easy it is to share screens during a meeting. "Not only does it mean you don't have to fuss with cables/adaptors (which can also break/wear out), it also means that if someone wants to share something while someone else is presenting, you don't have to disconnect and reconnect various computers," the commenter said.

And if Chromebox for meetings sounds expensive, Google says a business can outfit at least 10 rooms with meeting capabilities "for the same price that companies have typically paid for one meeting room." That's because co-workers can use their web-connected devices to join the meeting. 

Sure, more business meetings are happening online, but don't expect Google to get deep into the video conferencing business. As Caesar Sengupta, VP of product development for Chrome, told The Verge: "We don't really think of this as just a way to enter a new space for us; we saw this problem that needed to be addressed." And address it, they did.

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— By on February 9, 2014, 8:54 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure