It is smaller than a bar of chocolate, but packs a lot more punch. The Chromebit by Google is a new type of device than can turn any TV or monitor into a computer.
You simply plug it into the HDMI ports and the tiny dongle device contains a fully featured PC which uses the TV or monitor as its display. It then uses Bluetooth to wirelessly connect to a keyboard and mouse.
Google said: “By simply plugging this device into any display, you can turn it into a computer.
“It’s the perfect upgrade for an existing desktop and will be really useful for schools and businesses.”
Tech experts are in agreement.
“This is a booming sector of the market at the moment,” commented Chris Green, a tech analyst at the Davies Murphy Group consultancy.
“With the falling cost of hardware, schools are looking to families to equip kids with their own computers – the idea of BYOD [bring your own device to class].
“This has prompted manufacturers to create low-cost entry-level laptops that parents then buy for their children as well as themselves.”
The Chromebit will cost under $100 but Google has said that it will not advertise directly to children. However one expert said the company still hoped to financially benefit in this sector in the long-term.
“The key goal here for both Google and Microsoft is to put their brand and services out there in front of kids to build loyalty at a very early age,” said Ronan de Renesse, a consumer technology expert at the Ovum consultancy.
“It’s also a good way to to see whether or not to extend these types of devices to emerging markets, where they could be used outside education by people with very low disposable incomes.”
For now, Google says Chromebits will be limited to the US.
“We hope to make these widely available in the future, however we have nothing more to announce at this time,” said a spokeswoman.
Taiwanese manufacturer Asus will manufacture the Chromebits, will are expected to go on sale before the end of the year.
The Chromebit will feature a Rockchip 3288 1.8GHz quad-core processor, with an ARM Mali-T760 GPU chip and 2GB RAM. There is a full-sized USB port located at the rear of the stick, which enables you to connect it to all manner of devices, and the HDMI connecter head swivels, so you should be able to plug into any awkwardly positioned TV with relative simplicity.
You get 16GB of solid state storage, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4 and a second USB-B port on the side to help power the device.
Google want the Chromebit to help in providing schools with affordable computers for classrooms, and also assist in giving small-businesses computer power. They also realise there is a potential for the Chromebit to provide third-world countries with affordable internet access.
But Mr Green thinks there is an easier answer as to why the Chromebit might succeed:
“People seem to love the idea of having a working computer on something no bigger than a dongle that lets them do web browsing, media streaming and other tasks on a big screen, but can be out of sight, out of mind when needed,” he said.