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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2012
I work in technology sales. Been a Windows PC guy forever. Recently my primary and my backup computers at home decided to quit on me. At 7 years old running XP they were the relics of my old way of working.

I did my research, analyzed my requirements and determined that all I really needed was fast Internet access. I have an external 1tb drive. All my music and other stuff is in the cloud. The Chromebox seemed to be a good solution with the features I wanted as well as an attractive price point and small, uncomplicated footprint.

Typical of Amazon my Chromebox was delivered as promised in 2 days. I love Prime!

Chromebox setup was a breeze. Plug the power cord in, plug in your USB devices and monitor and network cable, and that's it. 5 minutes later Chromebox was doing some updates which took about 10 minutes. You log in via your Google account. That's all.

I am impressed. Great product. Good value.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2012
I have hooked up this Chromebox to my HDTV system and it works quite well. I purchased the DisplayPort to HDMI cable and the video is great in all it's 1080P goodness. I had to use the analog jack on the front of the box to hook it up to my Denon receiver since the DisplayPort does not pass along audio but the sound is quite good. I wish the analog audio jack was on the back of the unit but that's a small quibble. I purchased the Logitech K400 wireless keyboard / trackpad for this unit and it works flawlessly. The Logitech K400 is not a bluetooth unit. Very nice Chrome computer. Works very well as a HTPC.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2012
I am an experienced computer programmer and have used a number of different computers and operating systems. My overall impression of the Google Samsung Chromebox is that it's one of the best ways to get on the internet. It is fast, easy, and makes it easy to conserve energy.

How I've used it:
--Checked my e-mail (said happy birthday to my brother)
--Got directions to a local playhouse to see Fiddler on the Roof
--Checked the balance on my bank account
--Watched videos of political commentary
--Allowed my daughter to listen to lectures for her online university course
--Ordered things from online stores such as Amazon and others
--Got weather reports
--Read Wikipedia articles on American History

I'm trying to make the point that although this is "just the internet," getting on the internet is the main reason I use any computer anyway. People may wonder why anyone would spend "all that money" just to get on the internet. You buy a Chromebox not just to get on the internet, but always to be able to get on the internet.

Because Google protects and maintains your operating system continually and for free, you have no virus worries, and you know your system will always work no matter who has been using it. No more humiliating phone calls to tech-savvy family members to drive over and untangle the mess that somebody made.

It boots up in less than 10 seconds. I can turn it on, log in, check my e-mail, and turn it off in less than 60 seconds. A lot of people choose to set their computer on hibernate or sleep so they don't have to wait for the computer to boot-up later. You can leave the Chromebox turned off because it will only take a few seconds to boot up the next time you use it. In this way, the Chromebox makes it easy to conserve energy.

Pros:
--Fast boot-up time
--No virus worries
--Has icons for links to Chrome web browser, G-mail, Google Docs, YouTube, and a main menu.
--The main menu contains quick links to Google services such as Google+, Calendar, Hangouts, Music, Games, and Tips and Tricks.
--Ability to log in as guest
--Ability to download files onto your separately purchased USB flash drive
--Has a built-in speaker
--Plays MP3 files from flash drives

Cons:
--No ability to install JAVA! This means some gaming websites do not work. Other gaming websites, such as Yahoo Games, Club Penguin, etc. DO work, though. It depends on the site and the game.
--No ability to install Silverlight
--No ability to install any software as you know it. You have the ability to download something and upload it to an online storage space, but you cannot actually install it on the Chromebox.
--No desktop programs such as Microsoft Word, but Google Docs is available.
--Although you can enlarge text within the web browser, I have not found a way to enlarge it in other places yet.
--The scroll bars for the web browser are very pale and difficult to see-- makes manually scrolling difficult.
--I could not find an option to adjust the screen resolution (I am using an Acer 23 in monitor, which is pretty big, but didn't help)

Although I might have had my doubts about purchasing an internet-only computer, I have to say that Google has done a fantastic job making a reliable, easy-to-use internet experience. I just wish there were more options for screen readability.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2012
Just replaced an old Windows 7 desktop with this little guy, and I'm quite impressed. Things that make me love it:

1) Just works. No intrusive updates, anti virus, random bloatware etc.
2) Plenty fast. (Unlike earlier chrome os devices)
3) Multi login model is great for families and other shared-device situations.
4) Boots in seconds.
5) Price is right.

The key point to understand is that it won't work for things that run outside the browser or require special plugins. E.g. it doesn't play nice with local media in general and itunes in particular, won't run minecraft (which needs the java plugin), won't run PC software like MS office, etc.

But if you've made the move into the cloud and just want to run a basic browser with minimal friction, it's simply awesome. I love it!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2012
I had built my last two computers (Windows OS), and have grown to like Mac's also. However, since I had the keyboard, mouse, and speakers, but a computer dying once again (Windows gets frustrating, as well as the excess hardware that ends up getting damaged over the years naturally), I decided to try the Chrome.

It may take some computer sense to get used to the cloud computing, so maybe not for grandma if she has to use Office software also.

Everything runs fast and quiet, and no more worrying about the computer failing. Haven't had it freeze at all yet.
My purposes are internet, email, youtube, and document viewing/editing, and it works great for that.

The Only Cons:
- (SEE EDIT BELOW) Lack of forward/back mouse buttons working did kind of suck, but you get used to it after a week or two.
- Detects my Sansa Mp3 Player, but not the files on it. This means I can't upload them to the computer, nor can I download the Google Play Music Manager to the system to upload files to the cloud there. I'm sure this will be fixed at some point.

EDIT: As of the Chrome OS 20 release 7/12/2012, I can now use my forward/backward mouse buttons!
OS Update also incorporated Google Drive into File Manager which is convenient, nice touch in the development here!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
I originally bought one of these for my mom, because she was moving farther away and I was worried it would be too difficult to do tech support over the phone. I wanted a system which could be set up once and require minimal configuration afterwards, and which would be secure and very difficult to accidentally screw up, while at the same time providing a good user experience for all her uses. 100% of my mom's computer time is spent in the browser (including webmail) or watching videos (offline and streaming). The Chromebox seemed ideal on paper. I chose it over the $250 Chromebook mainly because the extra memory and processing speed seemed like they would give a longer useful life, and it allowed me to supply a better screen. That being said, you also need to supply a keyboard and mouse, and, optionally, external speakers, mic, and webcam (it comes with onboard speakers only), so it ends up being quite a bit more expensive in total than the $250 Chromebook.

So far, the Chromebox has lived up to my expectations. I set the thing up and my mom has been able to use it hassle-free. It feels fast and responsive, video including Netflix streams without hiccups, and I don't worry about security because the ChromeOS security model is probably the most robust of any consumer OS on the market (as long as you trust Google with your data). I was so happy with my mom's Chromebox that I got one for myself to use as the primary internet device in the house.

A lot of reviews on the internet focus on cloud-based nature of this device and treat it as a limitation, concluding that it is therefore a niche device, or saying it is good as a secondary computer. I disagree. They have it backwards. Ever more of our computing time is spent online and in the cloud. For many of us, 95% or more of our computer time is in the browser, especially at home. As time goes on, the minority of cases where we are not using the cloud are becoming the niche cases. In the near future it will become clear to even the naysayers that the niche device is actually the device we need for those other cases. For our primary uses, ChromeOS is an ideal platform. As some reviewers have noted, certain things like processor-intensive graphics manipulation can actually be done faster in the cloud than in standalone applications once our data is resident in the cloud.

That being said, it is important to understand what it can and cannot do, and whether it will be right for you. Here are some things ChromeOS is not good for at present:

-it will not be 100% interoperable with Microsoft Office or other standalone software and productivity environments, especially as you might find in a workplace (unless your office has switched to Google Apps). You can use Google Docs to read and edit all formats of Microsoft Office, but it will not be 100% seamless, nor will it be as feature rich. On the other hand, it is no worse a compatibility problem than is often faced by users of different versions of Word. Most documents do not use the niche features of productivity software in any case and can easily be read and produced in Google Docs.
-you cannot do graphic design, sound editing, or video editing that absolutely require standalone software packages like Adobe Photoshop instead of one of the excellent Chrome apps like Pixlr.
-it is not built for gaming that requires standalone programs (some games now have cloud versions). Even if you could run the software, the hardware is not powerful enough for intensive gaming, although it is more than adequate for its intended uses.
-you cannot download files using BitTorrent (although BitTorrent is developing a javascript based torrent system to address this)
-you cannot use iTunes. You can upload/match your music collection to Google Play Music from your current computer and then play it from any device, overcoming this obstacle if you are willing to give up iTunes dependency.
-you cannot play DVDs or Windows Media formats. However, it does support a wide range of audio and video formats and I have not experienced this as a limitation so far.
-if you are a geek who likes to tweak and tinker with your OS, ChromeOS is not ideal for you, unless you give up the security benefit of verified boot and switch to developer mode, which will also allow you to install other versions of Linux.
-not all VPN connections work at present, but the OS is frequently updated and this should be solved some time this year.

The reality is, as I said above, most of us are increasingly spending our computing time in the browser and in the cloud, and the cases above are becoming niche cases, or instances of consumer allegiance to one cloud over another (e.g. do we want to park our data with Apple and buy in to its iTunes dependency model, or do we want to park our data with Google and rely on its cloud services?). For now, the Chromebox/Chromebook is a perfect computer for the following cases:

-anything you do in the cloud and all your browsing, including webmail and cloud-based productivity apps, as well as streaming video including Netflix.
-people in your life (parents, kids, grandparents...) who spend all or almost all their computer time in the browser, and who you want to have a secure, worry-free browsing experience, with minimal tech support hassles for yourself.

Some details on the security. ChromeOS's read-only firmware cryptographically verifies the integrity of the OS at boot time. The underlying Linux kernel has been hardened to reduce its attack surface. Users cannot install binaries on the system. Each user's data is encrypted separately. And the browser runs with a few layers of sandboxing (including seccomp-bpf, which is unique to Chrome on Linux). That already makes it a very secure system, although taking the time to turn off javascript by default and whitelist your preferred sites will make it even more secure.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
We've been running the Chrome Browser on our old family PC for several years. When that machine finally died, we decided to try the Chrombox as a replacement. Our kids use Google accounts through school, so having and easy way to switch accounts was great.

I hate dealing with software updates & virus issues, especially on the computer the kids use for schoolwork. If Chromebox deal with that junk, I'm glad to abandon Windows.

Everything has worked as promised. The only hassle was the getting the right chord for the monitor (as mentioned in other reviews.) Be sure to buy one from Amazon because they are not available in normal retail stores.

Just ordered a second Chromebox for my work machine. The only limitations for me will be video editing, PC games through Steam, and some FTP functions. We'll keep my high end laptop handy for those, but for daily use the Chromebox has been great.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2012
I have the beefier chrome box with the i5 cores. It is exceptionally fast in every way, and the simple but functional interface is near perfect. Boot time is nearly instant. I prefer this machine to my Mac desktop, which I'm phasing out because I prefer this machine and the chrome world.

The display looks great on a real desktop monitor.

Three complaints:
1. It has a fan. Usually off, but is annoyingly harsh and loud when it kicks on. It's not terrible, but could have been better engineered. My Mac is louder though. Still, for something so simple, why does it make noise? Ugh.

2. Good grief: $500 and it seems one can not use ANY USB sound devices with those 6 USB ports. No USB headsets for Google voice, no plugging into my DAC for Google play music. It's my understanding that in many cases, special per device drivers aren't necessary, just standard USB generic classes would typically work here. Google, you shipped this?????? Good news is the fix is committed and coming in dev channel, which means a few months until stable. But this is just so lame.

3. It gets worse. SD card reader support is hit or miss and undocumented. There is no card reader built in so while USB thumbs drives have so far worked fine for me, if you have an SD card from (say) your camera, you may need to struggle to find a reader that works to get your pictures into (say) Google Plus albums. A "Dynex" branded reader did not work for me but a "Lexar" branded reader did work. Did I mention 6 USB ports? For what, air vents? Presumably/hopefully better support for USB card readers is something Google will focus on too now that they are shipping Chrome OS devices that don't have a built in card reader. At the very least, documentation that is easy to find and that clearly indicates supported readers would help.

I love this thing. Make no mistake. Sooooo much better than Android and even my recent Mac. But Google chaos apparently leads to shipping out the door a situation like this and I think a bit of a tongue lashing is called for. Sure, 5 stars for what they are up to here. But good grief Google, if last years graduating class can't ship a coherent effort or you can't manage to manage people enough to ship a coherent product, for $500, then how long do you expect us to stay fans of your products? It's like someone pushed the chromebox out the door before the software people were quite ready. Even all the hardware isn't ready; the custom keyboard advertised in the optional pack isn't available yet, and for some bizarre and unexplained reason, an uncounted number of us were able to purchase what I purchased- the $500 i5 Samsung model, which quickly became unavailable after being sold through Tiger Direct, only to reappear, then disappear again. Not only that, I bought my chromebox straight off the web one week before the product was announced in the press. (Found it available because for some time I have regularly been googling chromebox.) Six weeks later, Google gave the 2012 Google I/O attendees i5 chromeboxes. In any case, go-to-market tricks and testing possibilities aside, it appears this is a new product launch that is a long way from smoothly executed.

You, gentle reader, might want to wait to buy this. It is indeed "Always New" (as the ads claim),but right now it can have a feeling of being always ALPHA! I'll resist the urge to swear. So near perfection, so botched in terms of integration of the "what it could do" versus "what it does do- only because we, um, didn't pay attention, sorry- The Google Team".

That last part isn't the usual complaining that a web based client isn't good enough. It is. LOVE the concept. Love it. And integration with google drive and increasingly available offline functionality just seals the deal. If most people don't get it, hopefully they will.

And BTW, Google sent the Core Boot effort much of their code. Kudos.

This will be a great product. In a few months. Buy now or buy then. Up to you. The display port and ability to power external monitors goes the opposite extreme from what the original Chromebooks could do. These boxes rock and will rock more in a few months.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2012
PROs:

1. It takes up almost no space on my desk.

2. 97% of the time it is silent. Every once in a while if I'm loading multiple graphics-intensive web sites simultaneously, the fan will come on for 15 seconds.

3. Boots super-fast. I think it was around 8 seconds from power off to done booting up when I bought it in early June 2012. Now it's somewhere between 5 and 7 seconds. Quite a change from my last 20 computers which were "fast" (booting under a minute) when brand new, but ended up booting in 3 to 12 minutes after being used for a year.

4. No viruses (and no anti-virus software slowing the system down)!

5. Plenty of USB ports (4 in back + 2 in front). 2 will get used by mouse/keyboard.

6. No more Microsoft Windows updates! On my other computers: half the time the updates would fail, sometimes they would mess up my wifi, and they almost always ended up making the computer slower.

7. It really DID work right out of the box!

8. I can unplug it, throw it in my glovebox (did I mention how nice and small it is?) drive to a friend's house, hook it up to their monitor/keyboard/mouse, turn it on, and be working in 5 to 7 seconds.

CONs:

1. As multiple people have pointed out, when the Chromebox is not in use, but plugged in, it sends a huge buzz through the speaker cable. I just have to remember to turn off the speakers when I go to bed at night or when I wake up the speakers whine as the ChromeBox has gone to sleep.

2. It supports dual 30" monitors, but (for now) will only display the same thing on both--you can't have a double-wide desktop (yet). [Edit (2013/03/17): Extended desktop has been implemented! Resolution is 1920x1200 for DVI and 2560x1600 for DisplayPort.]

3. No Java. For me, this has only been a problem in that it can't play RuneScape. So I keep a secondary desktop computer running Linux for that.

4. The only other website I've found that the Samsung ChromeBox can't handle is my credit union's site. Again, I keep the Linux PC around for that.

5. Older USB devices are hit-and-miss. The only one I've had a problem with is my old webcam.

6. As far as I can tell, there is no way to find out how full the internal SSD is. It holds 16 GB, but I have no idea how much I've saved to it, and have no idea if there's a way to find out.

7. Apparently no way to edit a local text file. I haven't even found an app to do it. My workaround for the last 5 months has been to throw the file on a thumb drive, move it to another computer, edit it, move the thumb drive back, and copy the new version over the old copy. Not an elegant solution, but at least there is a workaround until Google fixes this.

8. No way to manually invoke the screen saver. I'd like this, since then I can start a podcast playing, and then blank the screen. Ctrl-Shift-L will lock the screen, but doesn't invoke the screen saver--just makes you re-enter your Google password. The only workaround is to power off the monitor or wait the 8 minutes for the screen saver to kick in.

8b. No way to change screen saver settings. I think it currently blanks the screen after 8 minutes of inactivity. Sometimes I want it to stay on longer (if I'm reading something long but don't want to have to jiggle the mouse) and sometimes I want it to kick in much sooner.

9. The built-in Media Player needs more options. I miss being able to listen to podcasts at doublespeed like with the default Windows MediaPlayer.

10. File Manager doesn't tell you the length, bitrate, etc of audio and video files.

11. If you use LastPass, you will end up having to enter your master password about three times as often as on other computers.

There are a lot of other things (like not having a way to bind useless keys like F11, F12, right-most Windows key, etc) that aren't important, but would be nice. Also, Google has fixed four items from my CON list, so I have not included those here. :-)

I realize my CON list is longer than the PRO list, but the things on the PRO list are so much more important that I would buy another one without giving it a second thought.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2012
Don't know what all the fuss is about,up and running in 2 min. no problem with audio ,speakers ,mouse or key board.I have logitech undifying mouse and key board,logitech speakers { which I was already using with my laptop } i pug the speakers in the head phone port,all work great no slowness in my mouse and key pad great and no hum in speakers ,even when turned off ,no problem and all I bought extra was the DVI cable "I LOVE THIS CHROME BOX".And oh by the way I"m A 71 yr. old great grandmother.
and printing from the cloud is easy,just add your printer,mine is a regular wireless canon printer,added it without a problem and prints perfect,just follow the chrome instructions for adding a classic printer.
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