Chrome OS's best new use case: The all-in-one PC

LG's Chromebase PC looks like a good fit for public computers as well as modest end-user machines

LG's introducing a new all-in-one Chrome OS-based system that might well be a better embodiment of what Chrome OS is good for than many of its notebook incarnations.

The system itself, called the Chromebase, sports a 21.5-inch widescreen display, multiple USB ports, Ethernet, and HDMI input, and it runs on a Haswell-class Intel Celeron CPU, with 2GB of RAM and a 16GB SSD. Integrated speakers are also included. Wi-Fi is not included by default, but one presumes it could be added by way of a USB dongle.

The Chromebase hasn't shipped yet -- it's destined to be unveiled formally at CES next month -- but its form factor and other design considerations make it seem like a shoo-in for a market that hasn't really been addressed yet by Chrome devices: the kiosk and public-access PC.

Most such systems are either locked-down Windows machines or some variety of Linux custom-tailored for the application in question. Chrome OS, though, has features native to it that make for an ideal fit for use as a kiosk or public-access machine -- there's even a Public Session Kiosk mode for the device.

For one, Chrome OS comes out of the box with a great deal of lockdown. Very little is directly exposed to the end-user by default, and the smaller number of moving parts in the OS means it's far easier to secure to begin with. Plus, it's that much easier to wipe and restore to a default state, since that functionality is more or less native to Chrome OS devices.

On the other hand, Chrome OS's management features only come with purchase of a branded Chrome OS device, whether for business or education. An organization with an existing Windows or Linux investment might want to simply leverage that instead -- and it isn't as if there's any shortage of methods to make Windows kiosk-friendly. Linux already has any number of kiosk-friendly distributions available such as Webconverger.

Finally, the pricing for Chromebase is a potential sticking point. No details about pricing or availability have hit the wires yet. It would have to be less than, say, Acer's Aspire Z3-600 -- one of the lowest-priced all-in-ones to hit the market recently ($779) -- to draw the right kind of attention.

This story, "Chrome OS's best new use case: The all-in-one PC," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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