Got lucky and was able to snatch one from another store - will say which one in a comment to this review - but, I feel like I must say this upfront, the Chromebit's official price is $85 and nobody should pay more. If Amazon or nobody else seems to be carrying it at this time, just wait for a few days, no big deal. But let me go on with my review.
WHAT IS THIS?
The Chromebit is the guts of a Chromebook crammed into a stick the size of a Chromecast, give and take an extra inch or 2. It comes with no battery, speakers, microphone, camera, touchpad, keyboard or display and the only physical ports are HDMI and USB but, other than that, it's what you would typically find and get out of a classical Chromebook:
- 2 GB of RAM
- 16 GB of SSD (flash memory)
- decent quad-core CPU
- Wi-Fi up to 802.11ac
- Bluetooth support
HOW DOES IT WORK?
It's as simple as plugging the Chromebit at the back of a TV or monitor that support HDMI and there is a short HDMI extension cable provided. There is a small power supply so you will need an standard AC outlet to plug it in. Then, you either connect a keyboard and mouse through a USB dongle or pair them through Bluetooth and there's your Chromebook up and running.
If you need to plug in more than one dongle, you can use an inexpensive USB hub and, there you have it, more USB ports.
Once it's up, it's very much a Chromebook so if you like Chromebooks, this is just another way of using one.
One note, the Octane test score was just a little over 7100. Compare that with about 8200 on a
Dell CRM3120-1667BLK 11.6-Inch Chromebook
and an amazing 21,453 on the much more expensive
Toshiba Chromebook 2 - 2015 Edition (CB35-C3350) Full HD, Backlit Keyboard
. So no, it's not a speed demon but it does a decent job streaming, handling emails and general browsing.
HOW CAN IT MAKE ITSELF USEFUL?
The main advantage of a Chromebit is, of course, price. You can buy 4 Chromebits with the money you'd spend on the speedy Toshiba I mentioned about. So, if you already have a wireless, preferably Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, you save money. I can think of 2 ways of using a Chromebit:.
A - At the back of a big TV, it can serve mainly as a Chromecast, streaming from whatever source, with added Chromebook capabilities. Of course, a real Chromecast is more versatile when it comes to streaming but it will require an actual computer if you are to get a desktop on the TV screen. And, of course, be aware that you will need to tweak the 'sound' part a little if your TV is attached to a receiver and you don't want to use your TV's own speakers.
B - At the back of an HDMI-ready monitor, paired with a keyboard and mouse, playing very much the role of a Chromebook, only not portable and a little slower.
I am not saying that this is for everyone but, having experienced a 'computer on a stick' running a different OS and selling for significantly more, the Chromebit seems to be the superior options when it comes to simplicity and performance.
I love the Chromebit because it's inexpensive, performs impressively for something this small and it can make itself useful under certain specific circumstances and because the person who is using it loves it - I set it up for one of our relatives who had an unused monitor and she is happy. For anyone considering a purchase, I would say, decide what you are going to use it for before you buy it. I will be happy to answer any questions if I know the answer but it may take me a while to get back to you, depending on what demands my 'real job' places on my time.