Google has announced the launch of its new Chromebox for Meetings, according to TechCrunch. Priced at $999, the package includes a Core i7-based ASUS Chromebox, a remote control, a camera, and a microphone.

According to the official Google blog, Chromebox for Meetings uses Google+ Hangout streams. It supports high-definition video calls, and thanks to its ultra-fast Core i7 box, it is able to connect up to 15 participants from anywhere in the world. Users can join in using their laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices.

Instant Meeting Room

While Hangouts supports up to 10 streams at a time, Chromebox for Meetings will allow up to 15 video meetings in HD. According to TechCrunch, “The system is deeply integrated with Google Calendar, which will also allow you to schedule conference rooms. The display will always show the schedule for the room (and rotate pictures in the background). If you’ve ever set up a Chromecast, the design will look very familiar.”

Entering a meeting has also been made easy: Simply walk into the room with the Chromebox, click the remote, and join in. Users can also wirelessly share their screens without having to input dial-in codes, PINs, or add supporting hardware. Google Apps has been integrated into the system, making it easy to invite others and add them to meetings directly from the Calendar.

System Specs

The system is powered by Chrome OS and includes four USB 3.0 ports. It also comes with a built-in dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n. A full HD camera of up to 1920×1080 pixels that automatically switches resolution based on bandwidth gives users a variety of display options without distorting video quality. The camera includes a Carl Zeiss lens for improved autofocus and has the ability to auto-adjust in low-light conditions.

An omni-directional microphone with noise filter has also been added. The mic and speaker include mute, call, and volume buttons and built-in digital signal processing (DSP) for speech clarity. The remote control includes a full QWERTY keypad on the back with a nano-sized USB adapter.

Google has already rolled out Chromebox for Meetings and has been testing it out with a select group of customers. Some of these early beta testers include Gilt Groupe, Eventbrite, oDesk, and Woolworths Limited.

Google says the technology has been in use internally and hopes the solution will allow enterprises to more quickly adopt video conferencing systems, which have previously been available only to high-level executives due to their high costs. Chromebox for Meetings is also compatible with other conferencing setups like Vidyo and UberConference.

For the first year, the service is free. After that, it will cost $250 per year.

Do you think this solution will enable video conferencing to become more popular?

Image courtesy of Flickr

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