Chrome Blog

Google’s new dongle: the Asus Chromebit

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Asus Chromebit
Well, Google did it. Recently, Google (by Asus) has released a new Chrome device to the market. After Chromebook, Chromecast, Chromebox and Chromebase, we now have the Chromebit.

The Chromebit is a Chrome OS based dongle. 2 years ago (and recently, as well) Google released the Chromecast which is also a dongle, but not exactly a Chrome OS based. The new Chromebit dongle is a Chrome OS operating system based and that means it is in the same line of products (all the above mentioned except the Chromecast) which can be devices managed by the Google Device Management Console (a nice centralized management tool for all Chrome OS based devices, which will allow you, among other things, to put your Chromebit in Kiosk mode).

The Chromebit, like his older brother, the Chromebox, sounds perfect for Chromebox digital signage (this time it will be Chromebit digital signage) since it is compact Chrome OS based. Asus Compute Stick Chromebit comes with a CS10 RockChip 3288-C processor, 2 GB RAM, 16GB storage, HDMI port, USB port, dual band a/b/g/n/ac 802.11 WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and HDMI extender cable. You can watch the Chromebit unboxing video here.

The Chromebit stick is officially offered in 85 USD in the U.S.A. but when I was trying to purchase one, I only found that in Amazon.com for 85 USD (!). That was higher than an average Chromebox price. I guess that since it is still hard to find, we are still experiencing this overreacted price.

I won’t tell you to go it. Rather than that, I’ll tell you to be patient and wait for a while. The prices will become reasonable very soon. Take your time.

Fedor.

Chromebook – that is the question

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So, what is Chromebook? The Google Chrome version for Macbook? Notebook?

Well, yes: this is Google’s notebook computer, a laptop if you want. It is based over the slim Linux-based operating system of Google which is called Chrome OS.

Chromebook
Unlike the traditional laptop, the Chromebook is for those who work online as the apps (and the data of those apps) is usually online (such as Google docs).

Unlike the Chromebox, which is manufactured only by Google partners (such as Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and AOpen), the Chromebook was manufactured also by Google itself(!), not to mention that it was manufactured by a famous bunch of Google’s partners (as HP, for instance).

The first Chromebook was presented in 2011.
There is an apps store which is called Chrome Web Store – this is where you install apps from. You don’t use a CD/DVD for installing apps. The boot is very fast, actually in no time. Now, the sales of the Chromebook are very high. It seems that it is only second after the sales of Windows based devices in 2015, according Wikipedia.

The Chromebook is a link in the chain of Google hardware “Chrome” products as Chromecast, Chromebox and Chromebase. Actually, this was the first hardware best seller of Google, before all the above mentioned Chrome hardware products.

Way to go, Google!

Gil.

Chromebox Device Management Console and Kiosk Mode

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Google Chrome Device Management
This post will show you step-by-step of how to setup and enroll your Chromeboxes to be managed devices under the Google device management console. It will also show you how to easily put your device in kiosk mode using the device management console. For those of you who do not know: “Kiosk” mode, in this context, means that the Chromebox will be dedicated for running a single app. It can run 24/7 and when it boots (in case of after electricity power failure), it will bypass the login step and go directly into the app. This is essential in Chromebox digital signage. If you wish to install the Chromebox directly, without the Device Management, you can use the installation manual of the Chromebox player app, but this way it will be difficult to apply the Kiosk mode on a non managed Chromebox. Actually, you can apply this post on any Chrome OS based device and not only on Chromebox. That means: Chromebook, Chromebase and now Chromebit has just joined this list (so this is applicable for Chromebit kiosk mode as well).

Google Chrome Device Management email

Get a Chrome device license

Before we start, in order to manage your Chromeboxes, you must have valid licenses for that. Licenses (which are equivalent for “users”) can be purchased only from Google resellers and not directly from Google. In case you bought your Chromeboxes directly from Google, you already have the licenses and you’ll just need to ask Google to assign those licenses to your domain (but I doubt that this is the case; more likely that you didn’t purchase your Chromeboxes from Google). You can inquire Google for a local reseller for purchasing licenses in this link. When you purchase the license, you need to tell the reseller to which domain exactly would you like to assign those licenses (i.e. www.mydomain.com). After a couple of days, you’re supposed to get an email like the example you see here, telling you that you got the licenses.

Set the Chrome Device Management Console

1) After you got the Chrome device management licenses, you need to log in to the device management console of Google. You can surf to admin.google.com or through your gmail account, you can click the matrix icon in the top right corner, then click the “More” link in the popup icon menu and then click the “Admin” icon. The email which you log in with should have administrator privileges of the domain. Gmail menu
2) Once you’re inside the Device Management Console of your domain (now, I was wondering what would happen if you didn’t register this domain through Google, but let’s hope this is not an issue), you’ll see how many active users you have (in the right pane) and the main part of the screen has a bunch of icons. Click the “Device management” icon. Google Admin Console
3) Once you’re inside the device management module, you will see, in the top right corner, how many licenses you have and how many are being used (i.e. “Licenses used: 0/1). Also, you’ll see that no devices are defined. If you like, you can create an organization tree of your company/business, in the left pane. Google Device Management

Power and connect your Chromebox

4) Now, it is time to deal with your Chromebox (Chromeboxes come in several brands by Google partners: it can be AOpen, Asus, Acer, Dell or HP). You need to turn it on. Since this is the first time it starts, you will need to select 3 things: network, language and keyboard. Once you are done, click the “Continue” button and then click “Accept and continue”. Then, you will get a login screen. Instead of regular login, you would like to enroll this Chromebox into the device management. To do so, click the Ctrl + Alt + E. Chromebox startup
5) The login screen will be replaced with another screen: “Enterprise Enrollment”, for allowing you to set the Chromebox enterprise enrollment. There you should type the user (email address) from your managed domain, its password and go next. Chromebox Enterprise Enrollment
6) You should get a message telling you that “Your device has successfully been enrolled for enterprise management.”. Press the “Done” button. Chromebox after enrollment
7) Now, if you reboot your Chromebox, after startup, the login screen will have the following title: “Sign in to your Chromebox; Managed by “. That means, you did it. Your Chromebox is now managed by Google Device management Console. Chromebox managed device

Verify that your Chromebox was added to the Device Management

8) Get back to your PC to the device management (in order to refresh it, not sure if you need to log out and the log in or just refresh the page). There you should see under the “Chrome devices” your managed Chromebox. Its status is “Provisioned”, since you used a user with a enough licenses on that Chromebox. Google Device Management - Provisioned device

Configure the Device settings of the Chromebox

9) Click the menu in the top right corner (looks like 3 vertical dots. See the screen shot to the right) and a menu will be opened. Choose the “Chrome device settings”. This will bring you to the following path: Device management -> Chrome management -> Device settings. Google Device Management - Device settings

Entering the Kiosk mode

10) This is the place where you need to define the settings for all your Chromeboxes which were enrolled to this domain. One of the reasons we’re here is to put your Chromebox in Kiosk mode, so it will be dedicated only for running a single app: NoviSign digital signage app (or other app if you like). To do that, you need to scroll down the settings page till you reach the settings which deal with Kiosk. One of them is called “Kiosk Apps” and has a link nearby: “Manage Kiosk Applications”. Click that link and you’ll be taken to the Kiosk Apps page. Google Device Management - Kiosk device settings

Get the NoviSign digital signage app

11) In the Kiosk Apps page, you need to find the app you wish to choose. In our case, it is our digital signage app under the Chrome Web Store. Hence, click the “Chrome Web Store” button and type: digital signage chromebox. NoviSign’s digital signage app for Chromebox should appear there. Google Device Management - Kiosk app selection
12) Choose the digital signage player app. You can click the “Details” link and it will open a tab with a description of the app in the store. Click the “Add”, in order to choose it. It will be added to the right pane and the “Add” link will be changed to “Added”. Click the “Save” button below. Google Device Management - Kiosk app selection
13) You’re back in the Chrome device settings page. You can alter other settings of the Chromebox / kiosk mode, such as preventing it from going into sleep mode (especially in a case of digital signage app that needs to run 24/7) and much more. Once you’re done, don’t forget to press the “Save Changes” button in the bottom right corner. Google Device Management - Device settings after app selection

Start using the device and enroll more Chrome OS devices

14) Now the Device management shows you that you have one managed Chrome device. You can reboot or log in to the Chromebox and it will apply on itself the settings which you’ve just made in the console. If you set it to Kiosk mode, it will enter the app just right after the boot (that means it will omit the login). Please notice, that in the first time it will take longer as it will download the dedicated app which you previously selected. Well done!

Attention: To prevent the Google “Cryptohome” bug (the device might “forget” the app’s settings), let the app start running the playlist on the Chromebox, then turn off the Chromebox, using the on/off button, count 10 seconds and then turn it back on. If you’ve been using this procedure for setting an Asus Chromebit rather than a Chromebox, you can reboot it (as it doesn’t have an on/off button) using the Device Management Console where you have a “Reboot” button there.

Google Device Management



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Chromecast – past and present

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Chromecast is a dongle which is sold by Google and used for streaming from your PC to a screen in which the Chromecast is connected to (using HDMI port).

The Chromecast actually shows on the screen what you see on your Chrome browser on your PC (you should install a plugin extension for Chromecast on your Chrome browser to make the PC/browser talk with the Chromecast) or on your Android device and not everything that runs on your desktop. So, for instance, if you like to watch a video on the screen, the video should run not on your desktop, but inside your Chrome browser. Besides that, the Chromecast can broadcast materials from web apps or mobile apps which support the Chromecast technology, so it’s not only the browser.

Google Chromecast

The first generation was launched on 2013 (for 35 USD each, in the U.S.A.). Now, in 2015, we have the second generation of the Chromecast which is much improved than the first generation.

The second generation is actually 2 types: one specializes in audio streaming, while the other is an enhanced type. The Chromecast Audio adds advanced WiFi abilities to any speaker or audio system. So, if you have some useless speakers at home, then adding the Chromecast Audio to them will bring them back to business.

The second generation has less problems with buffering, that’s why it is much better than the first generation. The design is totally different and when connecting it to a TV where there is a little space between the TV and the wall behind, it is positioned much better than the old Chromecast.

The Chromecast is not a solution for digital signage. It is more for home entertainment and can also be used for presentations (casting the lecturer’s PC or Android smartphone to a screen) or special events on big screens. However, some use the Chromecast as a menu board. We don’t find it as a natural for this.

If you’re looking for digital signage, better get a Chromebox. As Chromebox digital signage is the new thing in the U.S.A. especially in the education system.

Ori.

AOpen Chromebox unboxing – Chrome OS player for digital signage

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This post will show you unboxing the AOpen commercial Chromebox. To watch the unboxing video click here.

Specifications: Intel Quad Core N2930 processor, Chrome OS, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 16GB SSD storage, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, RJ45, 4 x USB, micro SD card slot, HDMI, DisplayPort, security lock slot, headphone jack, on/off button, 2 antennas and power supply.

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 1

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 2

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 3

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 4

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 5

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 6

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 7

Unboxing AOpen Chromebox step 8

If you like to watch unboxing of other Chromeboxes, here are the links:
* Unboxing Asus Chromebox
* Unboxing Dell Chromebox
* Unboxing HP Chromebox
* Unboxing Acer Chromebox

If you like to learn more about the AOpen Chromebox click here.
For more technical information about the 4 other Chromeboxes, please visit our recommended Chromebox hardware page.

A new Chromebox has just arrived to the market: AOpen

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AOpen – the hardware manufacturer (iDisplay tablets, etc.) has recently launched their version for the Chromebox (together, now joining HP, Acer, Asus and Dell) in collaboration with Google.

This one is called “commercial grade”. I do not know why, but it has 2 antennas (no other Chromebox ever had an antenna). It has some kind of built-in hardware encryption for those who need extra security. More than that, it has auto power and auto recovery (I do not recall any auto power feature for any other Chromebox). It has something which they call “commercial port” in the front of the box (looks very similar to Ethernet port). Last, they also mentioned it has a dual screen support. Nice.
AOpen Chromebox - digital signage
Like other Chromeboxes, it comes with 4GB RAM. Probably, the storage will be 16GB like every other Chromebox. This unit has an Intel Quad Core N2930 processor, WiFi (2.4 and 5 Ghz), Bluetooth 4.0, RJ45, 4 x USB, micro SD card slot, HDMI, DisplayPort, security lock slot, headphone jack, on/off button and power supply. Like the others, the price starts from 150 USD.
If you like to watch unboxing AOpen Chromebox, click here.

Sounds nice. The digital signage people would love to embrace the new thing as new team player for the Chromebox digital signage. You can start pre-order if you’re fond of the Google Chromebox.

Who is going to be next? I bet it will be Toshiba…

Avi.

Chromebox Digital Signage vs. Android Digital Signage

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Few years after the Android based digital signage was introduced and gained a significant portion of the market with lots of followers mainly those who implemented digital signage for small and medium businesses. Google is now pushing the Chromebox as one of the options for digital signage player platform.

Same as Android, Chrome is a very popular browser and operating system (actually the operating system is called “Chrome OS”). The Chromebox digital signage players are there and very easy to use. They do not require, in most cases, any special knowledge. Chromeboxes allow running rich content and at least from first weeks of using it as a digital signage player, it seems like some of the childhood diseases that digital signage software providers experienced on Android, especially around stability and CPU usage, do not appear in the current generation of Chrome OS based boxes.

Android digital signage vs. Chrome digital signage
The prices of Chrome boxes are also quite attractive for digital signage usage. It is on the high side of prices if you compare it to the top level of Android based signage players, but the difference is not dramatic. The fact that Google is promoting the Chromebox to become the ‘Google Mini PC’ solution for all sorts of ‘single application’ platforms, is adding to the appeal this relatively new box has to the digital signage industry. Another wise thing that Google did was collaborating with 4 different big hardware manufacturers (HP, Asus, Acer and Dell) in order to get a bigger market share. I suppose that in the future, we might see other big hardware manufacturers, maybe Lenovo and Toshiba, selling their own Google Chromeboxes.

The digital signage market is going through changes in the past half a decade and it’s still haven’t reached stability. The Android based signage devices had helped the growth of the business and its implementation in millions of SMBs. I would say that the Android opened the way for the Chrome OS. Chromebox is relatively new player (double meaning in this case :-), but with Google pushing, signage software companies embracing and customers that are ready to try something new – the future looks bright for Chomebox in the signage market.

Is the digital signage market ready to try the new toy? Time will tell, all signs (again double meaning!) show it is.

Nir.