The Asus Chromebit is a tiny stick that you can plug into the HDMI port of your TV to run Chrome OS on a big screen. It’s the first device of its type to ship with Chrome OS, although we’ve seen similarly-sized PC-on-a-stick products running Android and Windows.

Asus first unveiled its Chromebit in March, and now the company is getting ready to begin selling it in the US and parts of Europe, Asia, and a handful of other countries. It will sell for about $85, which makes it cheaper than a Windows PC stick but more expensive than many Android models.

It’s also more than twice the price of a media-streaming device like an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Google Chromecast.

asus chromebit

So is the Chromebit any good? That depends on who you ask… and what you expect it to do.

On the one hand, the hardware looks respectable. The pocket-sized computer features a Rockchip RK3288 processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, fanless design, and support for dual-band 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. Unlike some other models in this space there’s no microSD card slot.

Since it runs the same software as a Chromebook, you can use it to view just about any websites or run just about any Chrome Web Apps that you’d use on a Chrome OS laptop. That means it supports Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, and much more.

But since it has a desktop/notebook-style operating system, you’ll need a keyboard and mouse to navigate. You can use a Bluetooth model or pick up a keyboard & touchpad combo like the $20 Logitech K400 and plug the wireless receiver dongle into the single USB port on the Chromebit.

If you’re hoping for an easy-to-use, media-centric user interface you’re probably better off with a Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV Stick. All of those products come with a remote control, while the Chromebit is basically useless until you plug in a keyboard and mouse.

But if you’re looking for a device that lets you surf the web, edit documents (using Google Docs or Office Web apps, for instance), play casual games, and do much more, the Chromebit might be a more versatile option. It doesn’t just turn your TV into an internet media streamer. It turns it into a PC.

Some of the first reviews are coming in, and TechCrunch figures the Chromebit makes more sense in education or enterprise settings than in your living room. According to CNET, the device had no problems streaming HD video or opening a half dozen browser tabs at once. PC World notes that 4K video is a non-starter, but 1440p video plays smoothly.

Engadget finds that Chrome OS is a good fit for this type of small, low-power device, because the relatively simple operating system is designed not to be too resource-intensive, and Chrome OS doesn’t seem significantly hampered by the Chromebit hardware the way Windows can feel on an Intel Compute Stick with limited memory, storage, and processing power.

Android Central notes that the Chromebit works reasonably well if you use it as a desktop, but that it can get a bit sluggish if you ask it to do too much at once. And if you need more than one USB port you could plug in a hub… or you could just spend a little more money on a Chromebox with more ports and more powerful hardware.

via Android Central

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19 replies on “Asus Chromebit coming soon for $85, turns any TV into a Chrome OS computer”

  1. I can’t think of a single reason i would buy this over a $50 Android stick. Android has so many more possibilities.

  2. It sounds like an interesting device. If one has a really large television, it would make it easier to see what one is doing.

    Perhaps an alternative is a Chromebook with Chromecast so that one can project what is on the laptop computer onto the screen doing the same as the Chromebit?

  3. Am I wrong or would any 7″ android or windows tablet with hdmi-out be a better choice than a chromebit or compute stick. I’m holding out until they make windows tablets standard with cherry trail and 2GB+ ram.

    1. For me you would be as the Android tablet doesn’t support a full desktop class browser. The Windows tablet would but would also mean dealing with Windows. I’d much rather deal with ChromeOS as it takes much less ‘dealing’ altogether.

    2. It would be wrong for me. I hate, hate, hate having to use a touch screen. I’m forced to when out and about with my phone. But, in the house, it’s keyboard, mouse and big screen. I tried to like tablets. But I can’t stand them.

  4. I’m going to plug my logitech k400 into my chromebook and double check the media control keys work with it. If they do then I am pretty sure one of these is in my future. Even if they don’t I think it might be.
    The logitech k830 would probably be a little nicer for the living room given the backlighting. But since it’s around $100 and the venerable k400 can often be found for under $20 it’s probably the better budget match here.
    I can’t think what else I’d want to plug into USB on this thing off hand. I’m pretty sure there is a Samba plugin for the file manager on ChromeOS now so no real need for a local drive I think.

    1. Using a Logitech K520 on my Asus C201P (same internals as the Chromebit I think) the volume keys work. The pause, previous, and next song do not.

      I’ve been using my C201 for several months now as my main box. Kind of. It’s my work laptop when I’m out of the office and I use it like a Chromebit in the office hooked up to a 24in LCD. Dual head works great and performance is very good.

      The “Kind of” comment is because I also use Guacamole ( https://guac-dev.org/ ) to access Linux and Windows servers with RDP when needed. Some of my graphical work is done remotely: LibreOffice, MS Office, GIMP, and graphics for computational research.

      1. That’s really interesting, thanks. I was not familiar with Guacamole at all. Looks quite useful.
        This Chromebit does have the same processor as your C201P but I am wondering if any thermal throttling issues might come up with a smaller package. One of the reviews linked in the article above (I’m sorry I can’t recall which one) did mention the Chromebit gets quite hot with extended use.
        I tried the k400 on my Chromebook (Acer c720) and found the media key support just as you did.
        One of the articles (again I’m not sure which – sorry) also mentions Amazon Video only plays SD as the Chromebit is not fully HDCP compliant. But also notes Google has expressed that this will be fixed in an upcoming ChromeOS release though no time-line or version # is mentioned.

  5. I love ChromeOS and my Asus C201 on RK3288 run super smooth.
    I am intrigued by the Chromebit, but I do think that in today’s market the $85 dollar price tag is a bit too high.

    1. It depends on what you’re comparing it with. It’s a pretty stellar price for a desktop computer. It’s half the price of the cheapest CHromebooks (not counting older discounted/refurbished models). And it’s mid-range for a media streamer (somewhere between the price of a Amazon Fire TV Stick/Roku Streaming Stick and an Amazon Fire TV/Roku 4).

    2. I think it’s priced right. It’s less than the ASUS VivoStick TS10 which (isn’t out yet but) is said to cost $129. The VivoStick is running Windows and has Cherry Trail, so I think it’s worth the higher price.

  6. For $85, the ability to stream from any website is a pretty compelling feature that’s hard to replicate with a Roku, Fire, Apple TV, etc…

  7. No microSD port means no deal, especially on a device costing $85. For a desktop experience I’d like to use a version of Linux. I’d give the Chromebit a chance if I could easily load Linux on it if I din’t like Chrome OS.

    1. Then why bother looking at this? There are dozens of Android sticks that you could throw any crappy Linux distro onto… some are cheaper and have better specs than this device.

      1. Well, I’m sure the tiny minority of people who want to use Linux will do just that, but I doubt that’s even entered into the minds of Asus.

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