ASUS Chrome­box 2 CN62

A new Chome box de­sign from Asus offers a min­i­mal­ist nir­vana

Micro Mart - - Contetnts - Mark Pick­a­vance

You re­ally be­gin to won­der why you need Win­dows

DE­TAILS

• Price: £199.99 RRP • Man­u­fac­turer: Asus • Web­site: www. Asus.com/uk/ChromeDe­vices/Asus_ Chrome­box_CN62/ • Re­quire­ments: Mon­i­tor with HDMI or Dis­play Port in­put, Wire­less or Wired Broad­band • Part No. 2-G084U

Awhile back, Asus added some Chrome­box sys­tems to its in­ven­tory, and now it's re­freshed them with a sec­ond se­ries of mod­estly up­rated de­signs.

It sent me the en­try- level model, part num­ber 2- G084U, to see what’s im­proved and if this makes its Chrome­box 2 of­fer­ing even more de­sir­able than its pre­de­ces­sor.

As com­put­ers go, this was is small, even by Chrome­box 2 stan­dards. The flat­tened box is just 12.4cm square and 4.2cm high. In­side, Asus has man­aged to shoe­horn a com­plete In­tel- based PC. In this model, it has a dual- core Celeron 3215U, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of SSD stor­age.

For those want­ing greater com­put­ing power, Asus also offers Core i3 and i7 vari­ants of this plat­form, though un­less you want to hook this sys­tem up to a 4K dis­play for video I don’t re­ally see the need.

You can also dis­man­tle the box and man­u­ally up­grade the RAM and stor­age. That might be a valid plan if you want to re­pur­pose this sys­tem with Ubuntu or some other Linux dis­tro of in­ter­est. Be­cause this is a PC, in­trin­si­cally, those things are all pos­si­ble.

How­ever, what this sys­tem is pri­mar­ily built for is run­ning Chrome OS, and that it does very nicely in­deed. Out of the box you sim­ply con­nect it to an HDMI or Dis­play Port mon­i­tor and a Eth­er­net con­nect, and you’re ready to rock. In­cluded in the box is a wire­less mouse and key­board, and the don­gle that con­nects them us­ing USB to the sys­tem. This does take up one of the four USB 3.0 ports on the Chrome­box, but not in­ter­nal­is­ing the don­gle means you can use these pe­riph­er­als else­where.

What was good about all them was that there was no ‘ pair­ing’ or sim­i­lar ex­er­cise. I just in­serted the don­gle and bat­ter­ies into the in­put de­vices, and it all just worked.

Once you’ve given the sys­tem a google ac­count and

wi- fi pass­word, you can dis­pense with the Eth­er­net. And the pro­vided mount­ing plate en­ables you to at­tach this to the rear of a screen with VESA stan­dard holes, and make your own self­con­tained sys­tem.

The ob­vi­ous lim­i­ta­tion of Chrome­box is that it can only use web- based ap­pli­ca­tions, or Chrome apps, though ac­cess to the Google’s An­droid Play store is also promised at some point in the fu­ture.

This was orig­i­nally go­ing to be in 2016, but it’s been pushed back be­cause Google needed more time to make it work more like peo­ple will ex­pect.

For Win­dows, a Celeron 3215U and 16GB of stor­age just wouldn’t cut it, but on Chrome OS that spec is more than ac­cept­able, and de­liv­ers web per­for­mance bor­der­ing on snappy. On this im­ple­men­ta­tion, it's even added an­i­ma­tion so win­dows re­size smoothly with tran­si­tion ef­fects. This demon­strates that the Celeron is prob­a­bly not stressed do­ing these jobs, and eas­ily per­forms these me­nial tasks.

If you need more lo­cal stor­age, then you could just in­sert an SD card into the 4- in- 1 card reader, or you could use a USB flash drive or an ex­ter­nal hard drive.

How­ever, the best up­grade would be to flip the in­ter­nal M. 2 SATA drive out and re­place it with some­thing larger. If you do this, it’s a rel­a­tively straight­for­ward ex­er­cise to re­in­stall Chrome OS, if you want.

While do­ing this does of­fer some in­ter­est­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties, Chrome OS is re­ally de­signed to work with cloud- based doc­u­ments and there­fore isn’t re­ally stor­age de­pen­dent.

As if to high­light this, all Chrome­box 2 pur­chasers au­to­mat­i­cally get an ex­tra 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years, cov­er­ing all but the most ex­treme file hoard­ing even­tu­al­i­ties.

This is by far the best Chrome OS ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve had so far, and it il­lu­mi­nated for this writer how far Google has come in mak­ing this a vi­able al­ter­na­tive to tra­di­tional desk­top oper­at­ing sys­tems.

A few hours with this and you re­ally be­gin to won­der why you need Win­dows for the ma­jor­ity of tasks you per­form on a daily ba­sis. It won’t do ev­ery­thing, but it does much more than you might imag­ine.

For those who want porta­bil­ity, then ob­vi­ously a Chrome­book is more suit­able. But for those who want a sim­ple, al­most si­lent, low­main­te­nance al­ter­na­tive to a con­ven­tional PC, the Asus Chrome­box 2 is push­ing all the right but­tons.

Highly re­spon­sive Chrome­box for all your Chrome OS needs

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