If you work with technology or you're simply a fan of new gadgets, it seems like there isn't much you can do with $100. After all, Moore's Law observes that the number of transistors will increase, but it doesn't guarantee a drop in price.
Sure, it's much cheaper to purchase a new computer than it was a few decades ago, but rising manufacturing costs mean that it is still kind of expensive.
But recently, Google announced its $99 Chromebit — a computing stick, made by Asus, that turns any display into a computer. The Chromebit offers 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi 802.11ac, and a Rockchip 3288 ARCM Cortext-A17 processor with an ARM Mali 760 GPU.
The device connects to a display via HDMI and the USB port can be used for connecting peripherals. The head of the device, where the HDMI plug is located, can swivel to fit in small spaces. The Chromebit comes in orange, blue, and silver.
At such a low price point, it's a great supplemental tool. Here are some ways the enterprise can utilize the Google Chromebit.
1. On the road
If you're a road warrior, you know the stress that comes with lugging your company machine through airport security and keeping it on your person at all times. Depending on your work, the Chromebit could be a nice alternative.
Of course, this all hinges on your company's policy of where sensitive information can be stored. If you are already using the Google Apps suite, you should be good to go. At such a low cost, you may bring an extra one or two with you just in case someone you are meeting is having trouble with his or her machine.
The problem for travelers, though, is the extra accessories needed to use the device. If you are looking for a cheap travel device in a more traditional form-factor, try one of the $149 11-inch Chromebooks Google announced. You can find the Hisense Chromebookhere and the Haier Chromebook here.
2. In the classroom
There's no denying the success of Chromebooks in education. A school in Kentucky now requires them for all middle schoolers and a Virginia school system bought 32,000 Chromebooks. Those are just two examples of schools that made massive pushes to Chromebooks in 2014.
The Chromebit could complement Chromebook programs in education well. Being that many assignments can be completed in the Google Apps suite, the Chromebit is a great portable option to give young students a portal to their work without carrying a laptop to and from school every day.
As an added bonus, the Chromebit could give parents a better way to monitor their students' work and help them if needed. It can be difficult to share the screen on an 11-inch laptop (especially if your eyesight isn't perfectly sharp), but working from 46-inch family TV gives everyone a better view.
If the school doesn't have the means to embrace a 1:1 program, the Chromebit could replace some of the shared machines in areas like the computer lab. This gives students access to a different type of computing ecosystem, and it isn't a hefty investment.
3. In the conference room
With the Chromebit, if you have a TV or large monitor, you have a presentation waiting to happen. Often times you'll have an extra computer or two in your conference room, but they are usually leftovers from a department upgrade. On top of that, you have to hope and pray that the correct cables and adapters are nearby.
However, if you have your presentation saved in the cloud, you should be able to just plug in the Chromebit and boot it up. Add a flexible or foldable keyboard and a small wireless mouse and you have a portable presentation kit that you could fit in your pocket.
If you need more power for your presentations, or you want to make your conference room video chat ready, you should consider the Chromebox for Meetings. It is literally ten times as expensive, but it comes with all the accessories you need to host high definition video conferences.
4. As a kiosk
For $99, the Chromebit is a good option to power your guest kiosk or sign-in desk for your organization. Add a monitor and a small desk and you have a place where you can direct guests who need internet access without handing over a company machine.
This works great for a sign-in kiosk too. Doctor or dentist offices can use Google forms or create a simple web page for folks to sign in.
Primary and secondary schools could do a similar thing for students who need to check out or return library books. Universities could use them to create shared portal devices where students could access the university's learning management system, like Blackboard, or the university's website or campus map.
5. As an onboarding device
This concept requires a little more effort. Using the Chromebit, a foldable keyboard, and a small mouse, you could mail new employees a pre-packaged onboarding suite with instructions and login credentials for a training account.
Create simple icons linking to to-do lists in Google docs, private training videos on YouTube, and documents for the trainee to e-sign. Once the new employee is all plugged in, he or she can get a jumpstart on training at home, saving you time and effort on the remainder of the onboarding process.
What do you think?
How would you use a Chromebit? Tell us in the comments.
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.