The size of PCs have been shrinking overtime and now they have become small enough to carry in your pocket. This is through the stick-based PC concept first seen with the introduction of the Intel Compute stick that has since seen other manufacturers jump ship to make one of their own. A case in point is the Asus Chromebit CS10, which is a chrome based OS device that is no bigger than a USB flash that can turn your monitor or TV into a PC by a simple insertion using the HDMI connector. What this means is that you can simply walk around with your PC in the pocket! But don’t expect this small device to transform your workspace or 100 percent be a replacement to your desktop. This is the least expensive and easiest way of turning your TV set into a smart one with features like streaming of video from YouTube or Netflix, and the use of clod based services including google drive.
Design and Features
The Asus Chromebit looks like an oversized USB flash drive, but when the reality dawns on you that it is a standalone computer, it begins to look impressively small. This is a matte black HDMI dongle with elongated shape and rounded edges that plugs into the rear of your monitor or HDTV. It is really a Chromebox shrunk down to measure 4.75 x 1.25 x 0.625 inches and weighing 2.65 ounces so it won’t cause you any trouble carrying it around. However, keep in mind that you will have to carry a separate mouse and a keyboard and be assured to get a display to fix it. As such, one could go for a tablet or laptop when travelling but that does not dent the Chromebit its place as a small form factor device that is highly portable.
The Chromebit is powered by a Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C Processor, and ARM-Mali T764 GPU. This is a quad-core chip that runs at up to 1.8GHz, and is paired with 2GB of 1,066MHz LPDDR3 RAM. The processor gives it enough power to handle various tasks including playing videos, surfing the internet, streaming videos and movies and browsing photos. Clearly, this is not a powerhouse as is always the case with chrome OS based device. The Chromebit runs Google Docs smoothly and can open multiple web windows without experiencing any lag. However, subjecting it to opening larger Google spreadsheets, becomes a daunting task for it to accomplish without slowing down. Heavy web pages and multimedia tend to lag and stutter with slow loading times, a feature that is common on very cheap PC. An Integrated ARM Mali-T764 GPU makes it possible to watch videos on 1080p but the texts become small to view from a distance. It however works well with 720p thus making it easier to read web apps and websites from across the room.
In terms of storage, the Chromebit comes with 16GB on board storage with no MicroSD for further expansion. You barely get 10GB of free space with the installation of chrome OS, which is barely enough hence it mostly relies on using cloud for data storage. You will get 100GB Google Drive storage for two years that will allow you to access your files from anywhere so long you are connected to internet. Continuous usage of the fanless Chromebit makes it to heat up at an alarming rate but the high temperature do not pose any danger to the Chromebit or the device it is plugged into. It’s power consumption is well below the average laptop with it drawing 3.5 watts on normal use and under 8 watts under intensive use. This makes it an efficient device in terms of drawing power with just 1.5 watts pulled when on idle mode.
The Asus comes with an HDMI output to connect to any compatible TV or monitor. Asus are kind enough to include an HDMI extension that makes it easy to maneuver the device into the slot if the space is tight. If you have an old monitor with no HDMI port, then a VGA-to-HDMI or a DVI-to-HDMI adapter will get you covered. Much like the Fire TV stick from Amazon, or Roku stick there is an AC port for plugging in power since the Chromebit does not come with an Internal Battery. Besides the power port, there is a USB 2.0 port located on the opposite end of the HDMI connector. Internet connectivity in the Chromebit is available by way of a dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 that is quite useful for fast and convenient connection with other devices Bluetooth Keyboards and Mice. You don’t have to worry about USB input devices for pairing purposes since on booting, the Chromebit performs a scan in an attempt to connect with any Bluetooth enabled keyboard or mice available.
The Asus Chromebit CS10 suffices as a versatile and convenient media-streaming device especially for those consuming their videos and music content from within a browser. It eschews other streaming devices by doubling as a PC allowing you to access your files on various cloud based services. It has the chops to take on the throne from the Intel Compute stick and a price that appeals to the masses but the Asus Chromebox M004U offers more functionality and connectivity making it a better choice. It won’t run Photoshop or play games, but add a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and the Asus Chromebit turns any HDMI-compatible display or television into a Web-surfing station. The Chromebit is not your typical desktop replacement kind of device, but if you are after a plug and play device within limited space, then the Asus Chromebit CS10 is an option worth your consideration. It is a less expensive and easy way to breathe life to your spare monitor or HDTV into an all-in-one PC.