Setting up a conference call isn't always easy. From the dial-in codes that participants must use to join the meeting to the cords and adaptors that are sometimes necessary to establish audio and video connections, meeting remotely can be complicated. Google's new Chromebox for Meetings aims to make it a bit simpler. The Web giant announced the new service this week, touting it as a portable and easy-to-use solution for small businesses.
The $999 starter package includes a Chromebox— a miniature computer that runs on Google's Web-based Chrome OS — as well as an HD camera, microphone, speaker and remote control. The platform runs through Google Hangouts, Google's Skype-like video chat service. Hangouts has features that make video chat easier; for example, the video stream of whoever is currently speaking comes to the forefront, so there's no confusion about who is talking. And because Hangouts is linked to the rest of Google's Web ecosystem, the only thing you need to join a session is a Gmail address and an invite.
To start a new business meeting, just turn on your Chromebox and press a button on the included remote control. You can load a video feed of all remote participants on any display the Chromebox is connected to. Participants can easily share their laptop screen wirelessly, with no adaptors necessary. Thanks to integration with Google Docs, you can even collaborate on documents, spreadsheets or presentations remotely during a meeting. And because the Chromebox is small enough to fit in your palm, you can carry it with you and host a meeting anywhere. [Is Chromebox for Meetings Right for the Enterprise?]
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Up to 15 people can join each meeting. And proponents of old-school meeting tech need not worry: A tool on Vidyo can connect traditional video conferencing platforms to Google Hangouts. And participants can still dial in on a phone using a provided call-in code.