Windows-based all-in-one systems have been popular with businesses for years, offering desktop power in a smaller footprint. But they are still Windows PCs, and are just as complicated to monitor, update and protect as their multifaceted brethren.
To ease administration, many businesses have chosen Chromebooks. The Chrome OS is constantly updated and offers virus protection without any user intervention. But not every worker can make due with a notebook form factor. That left many businesses without a better choice — until now.
The Chromebase 22CV241-B from LG Electronics is one of the first computers to offer the simplicity and security of the Chrome OS in an all-in-one desktop format. The Chromebase is centered on a large LED screen, a beautiful 21.5-inch panel capable of full high-definition resolution. The display has a nearly 180-degree viewing angle, so colleagues gathered around can see perfectly. The monitor also hides two 5-watt stereo speakers that made everything we tested, from video conferences to streaming movies, sound clear and loud.
The system handled the full gamut of business applications without slowdown, including spreadsheet programs that read and process Excel files, video conferencing apps that make use of the built-in camera, instant messaging, email and other various apps, many of which are available for free from the Chrome Web Store. Much of that performance is due to the powerful 1.4-gigahertz processor backed up by 2 gigabytes of DDR3 RAM. The Chromebase also booted in just seven seconds.
For storing programs and data, the 16GB hard drive is a solid-state model with no moving parts, which makes for speedy transfers. And while 16GB may not sound like much, the apps and even the OS are tiny compared with their Windows counterparts. Extra data can easily — and automatically — be backed up to Google Drive or to a private cloud. Those who want to use Google Drive will get 100GB of storage space for free for two years with every system.
The Chromebase offers a lot of hassle-free computer for a very low price. There may be a slight learning curve moving from Windows, but the Chrome OS is as easy to learn as it is to administer.
Chromebase systems purchased for businesses can easily be managed using the Chrome Management Console. Using the console, we were able to configure the Chromebase along with our modest test fleet of two additional Chromebooks, but it can work with hundreds or even thousands of units.
It’s extremely easy to set up user profiles to be shared by Chromebase units within your fleet. Apps can be set to preinstall as soon as a user activates his or her system for the first time, a process that takes only a few minutes on the first boot-up. Network access can be preconfigured using either Gigabit Ethernet or wireless access, so no user will have to struggle to get on the network.
After the initial setup, administrators can determine which new apps will be allowed on the system by either whitelisting or blacklisting them, or simply locking the system down completely. Admins can even decide what URLs employees are allowed to visit if they want truly granular control.
User access controls on each system can be overridden by the management console as well. We even disabled the Chromebase’s default guest access function from the console, so that only authorized users could boot up and use the system.
Another nice feature for some businesses is the ability to see over time how the Chromebase units are being used, including how often they are powered up and what apps they are running. Besides making sure that employees are working, this level of information can pinpoint over- or underused devices so that no computing resources are ever going to waste.
The Management Console is a free tool available to anyone who purchases a Chromebase and works even better when a number of units are added. It gives one more benefit to the Chromebase that already seems tailored for businesses of every size.