Google's Chrome OS can be found in laptops, hybrids and even small desktop computers. Joining that lineup of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes is a new PC-on-a-stick version, called the Asus Chromebit. It's one of several new Chrome OS devices highlighted by Google.
The Chromebit looks like a large USB thumb drive, and connects via HDMI to a monitor or TV, giving you instant access to Chrome OS and all its features. The stripped-down, always on operating system is essentially a Chrome Web browser, augmented by some basic OS file functions.
This is not the first stick PC we've seen. The Intel Compute Stick was previewed at CES 2015, and will run Windows 10 with an Intel Atom CPU. The Raspberry Pi is a nearly stick-like mini computer that can run Windows or Linux.
All of these are designed to be inexpensive ways to add computing chops to a monitor or TV, and one potentially interesting scenario is to use one of these stick computers as a home theater PC, streaming online content to a big screen while staying out of sight.
Streaming media sticks from Roku, Amazon and others are another way to add streaming media to a TV, but those solutions lack the native Web browsing ability of something like the Chromebit and its ability to use any cloud-based service, website or app.
The Chromebit runs the same Rockchip 3288 processor as Asus' other new low-cost Chromebooks, and connects to the internet via Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. It will include 2GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD, and a full-size USB 2.0 port for connecting accessories.
The Asus Chromebit will be available in this summer and should sell for under $100. UK and Australian prices have yet to be announced, but $100 converts to around £70 or AU$130.