Chromebox Reviews Roundup – Who Should Buy It?

So Samsung Chromebox is released and hot-selling (being the best selling desktop computer in Amazon).  Do you like it?  Considering buying one?  Before you hit the buy button, let’s have a look at what people say about this little Chrome device:

Samsung Chromebox

Size and Look

  • 7.6 x 7.6 x 1.3 inches big, it can fit into any drawer unnoticed
  • Outer appearance and feel is not bad, but it’s not great. It has an “overly plasticly appearance” – GearWERKZ.net

 

Performance

  • Boots in 5 to 7 seconds, ready to surf the internet in about 10 seconds.  Probably only tablets could be faster.
  • “It’s very fast and very stable, and I never encountered a crash or slowdown…” – TheVerge.com
  • “The Chromebox handles 1080p video playback without hiccups or drama — watching YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu or Netflix is no longer a gamble… with 4GB of RAM it’s now possible to open a few dozen tabs before noticing any performance hit.” – Engadget.com

 

Software

  • Setting it up is easy, just connect to network via Wi-Fi or ethernet, use (or create) your Google account, and you are good to go
  • Multi-tasking is improved in this version of Chrome OS, putting windows side-by-side is great
  • Everything stored online, auto-update and virus-protection, this PC is virtually maintenance-free
  • Limited to using the apps in Chrome Web Store
  • It’s great for simple casual use.   “If you want to spend hours on productivity programs, video or picture editing for instance or constructing complicated office documents, then the Chromebox is probably not for you.” – TechRadar.com

 

Input/Output/Accessories

  • Using your own keyboard is OK, because you can map most keys of the keyboard to the Chrome OS specific keys, EXCEPT Caps Lock (according to theverge.com)
  • There are plenty of ports (6 USB ports!!!)
  • However, there is no VGA or HDMI port, so you need a separate DVI-to-HDMI cable to connect to your HDTV
  • It supports dual-display output, but right now it only mirrors the desktop to two displays
  • There is only 16GB flash storage on board, so if you want to use it as a media center, you may need an external harddisk
  • It recognizes many common webcams, however, USB-based microphones are currently not supported – CNET.com

 

Price

  • At $329.99, it’s more like a net-top, good for low-end use
  • Much cheaper than Apple’s Mac Mini (but of course, Mac Mini is more powerful)

 

So what’s the verdict?  Most reviewers thought that Chromebox is good for some simple and lightweight use.  Given it’s limited local storage and fair CPU speed, one should not expect to use it for heavy tasks.  It has the potential to be a home theater PC, but the lack of HDMI port and web-only user interface make it not the perfect choice (think Apple TV if you only want streaming media, and it’s much cheaper).  If you are looking for a device for light-weight web surfing in the living room, occasional document editing and watching online video in YouTube, Chromebox is something you may consider.
Samsung Series 3 Chromebox

Chrome Web Store Trending Apps – Find Hottest Web Apps Easily

Chrome Web Store just received a new update.  A major new feature is the “Trending” tab which to let users know what web apps are hot now.

 

Trending Chrome Web Apps

In the past we could only see “popular” web apps but this list is not frequently updated.  The new “trending” tab lists out the hottest web apps and sort by the popularity.  Apps are ranked as “on fire”, “hot” and “warm”.

Chrome Web Store - Trending Web Apps

The purpose of this “trending” tab is to highlight web apps that are popular in recent time.  These apps may not be found in the “popular” tab that shows all-time hot apps.  For example, while YouTube is definitely a “popular” web app (over 1,000,000+ users installed it in Chrome), it is not even “warm” in “trending”.  This is obvious because the user count of this web app is stable.

Apart from the trending tab, now you can also sort web apps in each individual category to find out the trending web apps.  This is very useful for finding out the hottest web apps such as latest games.

Chrome Web Store - Trending Web Apps in Categories

 

Offline and Playable on Google+ Identification

The second change to Chrome Web Store is the new mark-ups showing particular features of web apps.  In the following screenshot, you see a Google+ mark for Diamond Dash, meaning that this game is playable on Google+ (and trending mark for BrowserQuest too).  You can also find a lightning mark for apps that run offline.  Google said that more marks for other features would follow.

Chrome Web Store - Playable on Gogle Plus Mark

 

Read more about this update here: http://chrome.blogspot.com/2012/04/zap-finding-right-app-and-extension.html

New App Categories in Chrome Web Store

Google Chrome Web Store has just received a little change.  As introduced in Chromium Blog, there are new top level categories and sub-categories in the Store, such as Business Tools.

Chrome Web Store New Categories - Business Tools

This is certainly a move to help (and attract) corporate users.  There are also new sub-categories, such as Shopping under Lifestyle.  This is how Google described the benefits of these changes:

The new structure of the store will improve discoverability for apps. For example, users searching for a photo album app can now easily drill down to the “Photos” subcategory level and track down the app they are looking for. At the same time, apps assigned to a subcategory show up in the category page as well giving them wider exposure; an app in “Photos” will appear on both the “Photos” page and the “Entertainment” page.

From now on, an app would only be shown in the primary category the developer chose, to avoid confusion caused.  It would, however, be shown in both the category and sub-category it belongs to.

Web app developers are certainly affected by this change because they have review the categories of their apps after this update.  For web app users, I believe this brings easier app searching.  The new top level categories and sub-categories are, in my opinion, much better and clearer than the original categorization.

 

Source Chromium Blog, via Chrome Story

Chrome Web Store Gets New Look

Google just refreshed the look of Chrome Web Store.  Featured apps and extensions are now shown in not only icons but also screenshots and featured images.  The search box is moved to the left.  Overall, this maximizes the use of the screen real estate.

New Look of Chrome Web Store

A one-page design is adopted, which means that new content is loaded into the existing page without the need to refresh the screen.  If you click on an app or extension, a new window pops up to show app details and screenshots.

Chrome Web Store New Look - App Introduction

Do you like this new design?  I think it’s a neat and tidy design, embodying both a good look and functionality.  Tell us what you think about it here!

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