The ASUS M004U Chromebox: There’s No Place like Chrome


The desktop PC might be dying—there are many critics who believe that it is flat-lining as you read this—and there are definitely some indicators that the critics may be right. Tablets and smartphones continually erode away at the desktop market share, and as the consumer base moves toward smaller, lighter, and faster, the stalwart bulk of a desktop PC seems archaic.

But instead of just rolling over to die, some companies are quietly fighting the rising tide of cynicism by producing PCs that buck trends, push envelopes, and fly in the face of convention. The Taiwanese-based ASUS computer corporation stands at the forefront of such innovation, introducing desktops (and yes, tablets) that add a little extra to the traditional PC. We’ve spoken about the M70AD, the world’s first NFC-enabled desktop, recently, and now ASUS is introducing the M004U Chromebox, a desktop that’s not really a desktop, but in some ways, is so much more.

Let’s clarify. The ASUS M004U Chromebox is a desktop that runs, lives, and breathes the Google Chrome operating system, and contains the same basic layout of Chromebook laptops that have been making waves lately. Eschewing traditional Windows or Apple iOS operating systems, these units use a simplified base that more closely resembles the Android operating system. And because Chrome is open-ended, there are far more developers finding new ways for the system to work for you.

The Chromebox houses a 1.4GHz Intel® Celeron™ 2955U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics. The Chromebox has 2GB of dual-channel 1600MHz DDR3 RAM and a 16GB solid-state drive. 

Although those specs may seem average, once you experience the boot-up speed and application access, you’ll see why so many are touting the new Chrome OS as the "Windows killer."

With VESA mount and dual-display support, you can attach this box to a high-end, high-definition screen or TV of your choosing for a complete all-in-one experience. At less than five inches wide, two inches high, and less than 1.5 pounds, you’ll barely notice this Chromebox when you integrate it into your home entertainment system or workstation.

The wide array of options for the Chromebox offers it yet another level of flexibility. There is an HDMI and DisplayPort option for the aforementioned dual-display ability, four USB 3.0 ports (two front and two rear, backwards compatible to USB 2.0) for enhanced data-transfer speeds, and 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0, and 10/100/1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet. There’s also a 2-in-1 media card reader (but no optical drive) and 100GB of free Google storage thrown in, for two years. The media card reader makes backing up photos as easy as inserting a memory card (SD or MMC). Once inserted, the photos on the card are immediately backed up and loaded, thanks to Google+.

One of the pros about a Chrome-based system is the tight infrastructure and interconnectivity between Google apps. After booting up in as little as three seconds, the interface will let you access the whole Google+ suite of apps, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive, and the Google Play Store. This is one of the first dedicated systems that uses the power of cloud computing to its advantage, allowing you to store and retrieve data without cumbersome hard-drive issues.

And it’s not a matter of how slimmed-down the operating system is—you’ll feel that speed almost immediately. It’s really about how much cleaner the experience feels. So little bloatware is attached to Chrome that it’s like using a fresh install of another operating system; from boot-up to diving into your first application only takes about eight seconds.

Since the Chrome OS is all about signing in and personalizing your settings, parental control is also a breeze to set up, and it includes integrated malware and virus protection. With this living-room set top PC, you’ll be able to decide who surfs where and when.

The earlier limitation of Chromebook laptops—an always-on Internet connection—has been replaced by offline apps and games that don’t require constant Internet access. Now you can do some word processing, play some games, and get a little productive time in whether you’re connected or not. Apps are available on the Chrome Store website, and although not as robust as the Apple Store or even the Microsoft shop, you’ll find something to like.

With a variety of keyboard and mouse options sold separately, including wired and wireless configurations, transforming this box into a fully functioning Chrome PC is only a purchase away.

Imagine the Chromebox as an extension of the USB-based Chromecast—they do essentially the same—but the Chromebox gives you a lot more options in storage, playback, and multi-tasking power. ASUS once again stands at the forefront of a supposedly dying market, and once again they present a PC that thinks outside the (Chrome) box.

Operating System Chrome OS
CPU Intel® Celeron™ 2955U Processor
Chipset Integrated
Graphic Intel® HD Graphics
Memory 2GB
Dual Channel, DDR3 at 1600MHz
Storage 16GB SSD
Wireless Data Network 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0
LAN 10/100/1000Mbps
Side I/O Ports 1 x 2 -in-1 Card Reader
1 x Kensington Lock
Front I/O Ports 2 x USB 3.0 
Back I/O Ports 2 x USB 3.0
1 x HDMI
1 x RJ45 LAN
1 x DC-in
1 x Display
1 x Audio Jack(s)
Card Reader 2 -in-1: SD/ MMC
Power Supply 65W Power adapter
Dimensions 4.88 x 4.88 x 1.65" (WxDxH)
Weight 1.32 lb (0.6 kg)
Color Midnight Blue
Accessories AC Adapter, Warranty Card, User Manual, VESA Mount Kit, Quick Start Guide


Chrome this and Chrome that . . .

How long before Google gets a seat on the UN Security Council?

By the time the Great Unwashed wake up to the threat of immense global Big Business, it will be too late.