It seems like there’s a new Chromebook announced every few days, but Chromeboxes? Not so much. But Oregon-based educational computer company CTL has just unveiled a new Chrome OS desktop.
The Chromebox CBx1 is a small box with an Intel Celeron 3865U dual-core Kaby Lake processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. It’ll be available in April, and it’s up for pre-order from CTL.net for $199.
The little computer is designed for use in classroom or corporate settings, although it could also be used for digital signage, kiosks, or as a general purpose home computer.
It supports 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and Gigabit Ethernet, features HDMI and USB Type-C ports (with support for up to 2 displays), and the Chromebox CBx1 has three USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports.
CTL will also offer two Chromebox + monitor bundles:
- Chromebox CBx1 plus a CTL 22″ display for $329
- Chromebox CBx1 plus a CTL 22″ touchscreen display for $399
Dual core with dual threads are rather obselete nowadays. These Celeron 3865U are practically thrown out for almost free. For embedded purposes and NAS would be fine. But for computing purposes there are better choices like Pentium 4415U or 4415Y.
I had an Acer Chromebox. I liked it when it worked – but it was unreliable and kept breaking down. Eleven months after purchase the main board and SSD went out. It was still under warranty so I sent it back to Acer for repair. The repair lasted 7 months and then the SSD went out again.
Do a search on Google and there appears to be an issue with Chrome OS devices going out and displaying an onscreen message:
“Chrome OS Is Missing Or Damaged”. There is a recovery media available in the Chrome Store to try and recover the OS – but that has a bad rating and often doesn’t work. It won’t work if the hardware is shot.
I’m not sure if there is just a cheap brand of SSD that is causing these problems on Chrome OS – or perhaps there is corrupt firmware involved. Whatever the issue is IMO what’s happening with these devices is “beyond normal”.
I still use my Asus Chromebox, but not daily. I installed seabios and then Ubuntu on it within the first month of owning it. Never had any issues with it. I use it for playing emulation games now.
I was using my Chromebox a lot. Like 12 hours per day – and I was using the official Chrome OS on the stable channel. Still it should not be failing twice within 18 months of purchase. I have made several observations concerning this:
1) Try a Google search for “Chrome OS Is Missing Or Damaged” and there are literally dozens and dozens of pages of search results.
2) Google and the OEMS have dedicated “Help” pages for this issue
3) On the official Google Chrome OS Forum there is a pinned post marked as “important” advising every Chrome OS user to download the Chrome Recovery Utility from the Chrome web store (onto a USB or flash drive) – in case they get the “Chrome OS Is Missing Or Damaged” message on their device.
4) I’m not sure how many Chrome OS devices are in use – but in the Chrome web store there are over one million users of the Chrome OS Recovery Utility. And it’s rated only 3 stars out of a possible 5 stars. It has a lot of negative reviews.
5) If you spend some time in the official Google Chrome OS Help Forum there are usually daily posts from owners of Chrome OS devices that had to attempt to use the Chrome Recovery Utility – most of the attempts are unsuccessful and many of the devices are less than two years old.
Google touts these Chrome OS devices as simple and carefree to use – but for many users this isn’t true because having to attemp to download the Chrome Recovery Utility and restore the device isn’t a “simple” thing for many people to do. Especially for people like senior citizens.
I would of bought another Chromebox because I liked it when it worked – but no way I want to go through this hassle again. A few weeks ago I bought a Nvidia Shield android TV box. I was able to load four web browsers onto it – and surprisingly they all work pretty well. So now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my Shield TV box will be more durable than my Chromebox was.
I would recommend taking your broken Chromebox and installing Seabios and Ubuntu… What have you got to lose… It already is broken. The hardware could be fully functional. Seabios by itself will allow you to boot from a USB drive, which is how you can install any OS (even Windows).
Thanks for the suggestion. I might give that a try however I’m not very technically oriented. I wanted to mention that when I press the tab key on my Chromebox it gives the failure code reason as “05b” – “No Bootable Kernel Found On Device”. This is the same error code I receieved the first time my Chromebox failed after 11 months. It turned out the SSD was shot then. I strongly suspect the SSD is shot again. I spoke to Acer and they said if it’s the SSD they could repair for $130. Plus I would have to pay for shipping. The chromebox only costs about $200 new – so I’m not really interested in spending that much for a repair.
I checked the passmark score on the 3865u and it is 25% better in single and multi-core compared to the 2955u. That is 6% per year computing increase (compared to Asus M004U released 4 years ago). Just goes to show that when there is no competition, there is no innovation (or beneficial pricing).
Do people actually use Chromeboxes for digital signage? I would expect that something like an Arduino or Raspberry Pi would be more than sufficient for that and much less expensive.
If you have just one or a few signs and know how to tinker with it and have the time then sure. But businesses, especially with large scale needs, have to think more in terms of the cost of IT and management than the individual cost of the device.
Google has strong fleet management for Chrome. And that includes kiosk modes for running digital signage or even limited use interactive applications. So yes they do get used and no it probably wouldn’t be cheaper to use cheaper hardware because of the management and support costs.
Meh. Dual core processor. It should be fine for light work / schools. I do not see much/any innovation in these chrome boxes. Then again, Google may not allow it.
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