Google unveils Chromebit, turning any TV into a computer for less than $100

Google has announced a new HDMI dongle that can turn any TV into a fully-fledged PC for less than $100.

Chromebit is manufactured by Asus, the company responsible for other Google products like the Nexus Player, and unsurprisingly runs the firm’s Chrome operating system.

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Google’s decision to launch Chromebit is likely to have been influenced by an influx of HDMI-dongle computers being offered by other technology companies. Although Chinese firms have been producing Android-based HDMI hardware for more than a year, Chromebit’s main competitor is likely to be Intel’s Compute Stick.

Compute Stick will cost $149 and will enable you to run Windows 8.1 on your TV. Intel’s offering comes with a quad-core Atom CPU, 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM, a USB port and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.

Chromebit, meanwhile, will run on a Rockchip RK3288 processor and include 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. While this makes it slightly less robust than the Compute Stick, it should be more than capable of handling Google’s Chrome OS. The device also comes in three colours and should be available before the end of the year, although currently there are no plans to release the device outside of the US.

That is unlikely to remain the case for long, however, as Chromebit offers Google an excellent opportunity to target emerging markets, where the cost of an entire computer may be prohibitive to many individuals. Google is also targeting Chromebit at schools, with some institutions now operating a BYOD policy within classes.

Google has pledged not to serve advertisements to children that are using the Chromebit for educational purposes, but that doesn’t mean it won’t prove a major money-spinner for the firm. By getting its products in front of a receptive audience at a young age, Chromebit could help generate sales of future Google products.

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Chromebit will launch later this year and joins several other Google products that interface with a television set. The search engine giant is also behind Android TV, Chromecast and the Nexus Player.