Google is taking its Hangouts to the board room and staff meeting room, with the new Chromebox for Meetings.
Google has positioned Chromebox for Meetings to replace the technically complex videoconference system your business currently uses. Up to 15 people can join a single conference hosted through Chromebox for Meetings.
The Chromebox for Meetings sells for  a one-time fee of $999 and includes the “box” itself, a high definition camera, a microphone/speaker unit, and a remote control. In addition to the hardware costs, there is also a $250 annual maintenance fee to continue using Chromebox. That fee will be waived for the first year you use Chromebox.
Google says in its Official Blog :
“Meetings need to catch up with the way we work — they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device. Starting today, they can be: Any company can upgrade their meeting rooms with a new Chromebox, built on the Chrome principles of speed, simplicity and security.”
In its blog post, Google says that Chromebox for Meetings, when compared to other professional conferencing solutions, can be up to 10 times less expensive. The Chromebox device integrates with all of Google’s other Apps. That means, for instance, that you can schedule invite others to join directly from Google Calendar. You can invite customers from outside the company provided they have a Gmail address. Or using UberConference they can join via phone.
Google claims it is easy to set up and join remote face to face meetings via Chromebox for Meetings. No lengthy passcodes or leader pins needed, they say. Participants can be in a conference room or join from their laptops, desktop computers, tablets or smartphones – no matter where they are.
Chromebox for Meetings is actually a collection of hardware from various makers packaged together into a turnkey system. The core of it is a Chromebox, which is a computer box that runs the Chrome OS operating system. The first Chromebox is made by ASUS. Google says that Chromeboxes designed for holding teleconferences will be available later this year from HP and Dell, too.
Chromebox for Meetings is not aimed at satisfied Skype videoconferencing users. It’s aimed at businesses that today may have more complex video- or tele-conferencing solutions, and that demand reliability and high quality, and may need to include more people than Skype allows. With the free version of Skype you can make one-on-one video calls. With Skype Premium (about $10 per month) Skype’s official information says you can have up to 10 participants, but if you read the fine print, Skype recommends only five. Also, the video quality and sound quality sometimes can leave a lot to be desired with Skype. Chromebox for Meetings would be a step up from Skype for businesses that hold a lot of meetings and demand higher quality.