$179 ASUS Chromebox Up For Preorder

Just as inexpensive laptops running Google’s Chrome OS are looking to eat away at traditional PCs’ market share, there’s a new spate “chromeboxes” that are designed to do the same on the desktop side. ASUS’ $179 Chromebox model is now available for preorder at Amazon, Newegg, and Tiger Direct, with more coming.

The ASUS Chromebox-M004U features an Intel Celeron 2955U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics, 2GB of DDR3-1600MHz RAM, and 16GB of SSD storage. There’s a 10/100/1000 LAN port, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0 for communication. Ports include a 2-in-1 card reader, four USB 3.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, a Kensington Lock, and a mic/speaker out audio jack.

ASUS Chromebox

There’s a $369 version coming that sports an Intel Core i3 chip, double the RAM, and Intel HD Graphics 4400, as well as the Chromebox for Meetings that rocks an Intel Core i7 processor and comes with accessories including a remote control, external speaker, HD camera, and more.

You can also opt for a wireless keyboard and mouse for an additional $49.99.

ASUS Chromebox

For businesses, chromeboxes are designed to be ideal for employee or customer kiosks, desktop virtualization, and easy management, and there’s a case to be made for inexpensive chromeboxes in the classroom, too.

For average end users, chromeboxes present an inexpensive tool for productivity--this one has Quickoffice built in as well as Google Docs, for example--that comes loaded with Google’s apps and perks such as 15GB of free Google+ Photos storage and 100GB of Google Drive storage for two years.