Archive for April, 2014

Chromebox for Meetings Increases Distributed Team Happiness

cbm1Chromebox for Meetings Increases Distributed Team Happiness

A 5 minute read.

On Feb 6 2014 Google announced Chromebox for Meetings a bundle of hardware and software + cloud services packaged to work with the Google Apps platform, specifically Google Calendar and Google Hangouts. Google sourced best of breed A/V components from Jabra, Logitech, Asus/Samsung and combined them with a special ChromeOS build optimized just for Hangouts. A generous supply of HDMI, USB and ethernet cables is also included. Setup took literally 5 minutes. You need to supply your own display, which requires a HDMI input.

Launch pricing is $999 including 1 year of managed meeting service. (For the first month there was a price special with an older version Samsung Chomebox instead of the more powerful Asus now sold.)

I have written previously about how to configure persistent Google Hangouts for virtual conference rooms. Chromebox for Meetings takes this concept a big step forward with seamless calendar integration.

Why Chromebox for Meetings?

Sonian is mostly a distributed development team so it’s vitally important for team cohesion to enable “frictionless” video conferences with really good audio. Scheduling, inviting and managing a team meeting with a mixture of local and remote folks should require zero ceremony. Chromebox for Meetings, while not perfect, helps our team communicate and collaborate better.

Previously I tried to use Chromebooks (the laptop) connected to a Logitech webcam and large flat panel display to create a pseudo meeting experience. These were mounted to A/V carts. This worked for awhile, except the Chromebook settings would occasionally revert to the built-in webcam, or the speaker / mic inputs would change. I quickly realized this was too finicky right about the time Chromebox for Meetings were announced.

My goal was to create an experience where a non-technical person can walk up to the A/V cart and start a meeting by pressing one button.

Unboxing and Setup

In addition to the Chromebox for Meetings kit you will need a HDMI display. I chose an expensive Samsung LED TV. I also mounted the display to a rolling A/V cartVelcro strips will come in handy to neatly secure the cables.

Below is the unboxing for the Samsung Chromebox version.

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