Is this the future of computers in libraries and hotel lobbies? The LG Chromebase is a new 21.5-inch all-in-one PC that runs Google's online-only Chrome operating system.
Inside the Chromebase is an Intel Celeron processor with 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of storage. It boasts a 1080p IPS display, three USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, and an ethernet socket.
Everything is powered by Google's Chrome OS, bare-bones software that basically runs a whole computer on the Chrome browser. It's simple and fast, but it only lets you do stuff you can do online: no installing Photoshop or Word or any programs at all, for example.
So far we've seen Chrome OS in Mac Mini-like devices called Chromeboxes and laptops made by various manufacturers, called Chromebooks. Chromebooks are limited by the fact you need an Internet connection to do pretty much anything at all apart from a few simple offline tasks, which is at odds with a portable device that should be able to roam beyond the reaches of Wi-Fi without becoming a paperweight. But a Chrome-based PC makes more sense as it's fixed in one place and always connected to the Web.
An HDMI port on the back of the Chromebase means you can also, in theory, use it as a monitor attached to a regular PC; so if you want to quickly Google something or check an email, you can do it with the instant-on Chrome, or if you want to do something more intensive you can take the extra minute or two to fire up your PC and start using any program you like.
Another use for the Chromebase would be work stations at offices, schools, libraries or hotels, where you want to limit public access, or allow people to hot desk and access their Web-stored stuff from any terminal.
On the other hand, it's a computer that only runs a Web browser. It better cost next to nothing, LG.
LG will unveil the Chromebase at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, where the world's technology industry gathers in the Las Vegas desert to fight it out for gadget supremacy for the coming year. It's like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, except in a conference centre with really bad air conditioning -- and CNET will be there, fighting through the chaos to bring you the coolest, quirkiest and best new products that will rock your world in 2014.