Desktop PCs may be dying, and Chrome OS may be the new kid on the block that is very slowly gaining traction in a world already overpopulated with laptops and tablets. The fact that Android, its brother, seems to dominate the Google market and focus doesn’t help either. The fact that there are more apps available for Android than there are for Chrome OS is a funny one too. However, yours truly has a Chromebook, and that Chromebook is my main blogging device. It is simple, it is quick, and it just works. I mean, isn’t that what Apple has been selling all these years. Oh, and yes, Chrome OS devices tends to be QUITE A LOT CHEAPER than anything else on the market.
And what about a Chrome OS PC? Well, why not. Once again, in a world where many people are selling half-functional computers such as the ChromeCast (another brother to the Chrome OS), the Now Box, and many more, why not have a full fledged PC connected to the back of your TV?
The Acer Chromebox CXI is a device that seems to take a leaf out of all these devices, and tries to give you something that can be attached to the back of a monitor or telly, with nothing but an HDMI cable, and an added mouse and keyboard in the box to make sure you are truly covered. You can turn it into a media centre by plugging in a hard drive or SD Card, or just let this be the browser to run your Netflix or similar web streams.
- Chrome OS™
- Intel Celeron 2957U Dual-core 1.40 GHz
- 4 GB, DDR3L SDRAM (2GB also available)
- 16 GB SSD
- HDMI and Display PORT outputs
- SD Card Port
- Ethernet Port
- USB 3.0 ports x 4
- Security port
In the box
- Chromebox CXI
- Stand for the said Chromebox
- Quick start guide
- Power supply
What’s not in the box
I only mention this as I thought that Acer had done such a complete job with the mouse and keyboard, that I almost expected an HDMI cable to be in there as well. I mean, why not.
Alas, no. You need your own.
Look and feel
It isn’t that different from a standard big external Hard Drive from a few years ago. You can attach it to a stand, let it lie on its back, or you can mount it on the back of your monitor or telly.
The front features a power button, including a power LED, the SD card port and two of your 4 USB 3.0 ports.
The back includes vents, your security port, your headset port, your DisplayPort, HDMI, the other 2 x USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port and the power port. Unlike a laptop, you need to keep this bad boy plugged in at all times!
Your experience of this device will largely be reliant on the fact that it runs on Chrome OS. If you already use it, and are aware of how it works, you should be good to go out of the box. Such is the beauty of Chrome OS, and that of general web-based experience that Chrome provides. After I entered my WiFi password, and my Chrome OS/Google account, I have had to do no further setup. My bookmarks, passwords, and the apps I use are all there, as I have them on my regular Chromebook.
Keyboard and Mouse Quality
I must mention these here, as mainly I am absolutely in love with mice and keyboards. Yes, I am sad like that. Also, if you would like me to review those items, you know how to get in touch!
Anyway, Acer haven’t thrown in anything fancy in terms of the mouse and keyboard, but it is a good touch. The mouse is pretty decent, optical, and is one of the cheaper items you can buy on the market. The keyboard is a Chrome OS special, and while traditional ChromeBooks need you to press all kinds of funny shortcuts to get your Home, End, Page Up and Page Down, this actually has dedicated buttons for it. And yes, like any other ChromeBook, you do not have a Caps Lock key, rather a Magnifying Glass. A set of usual Chrome OS functional keys sits on the top, and while they have some use, the Brightness keys do nothing. Overall though, it is better than your average cheap keyboard, and for that I am grateful!
Both items are wired, so take up two of your USB ports, but you can always use a hub or have something fancy.
Fan noise is an interesting one on this. At times, you hear a silent whirr going on in the background, while sometimes it just turns off. It isn’t as consistent as most PCs, but it is loud enough to be noticed.
Just another thing to mention. Since this runs on your telly, it relies on that to provide the sound, and contains no speakers.
Overall, I can’t find much fault in this. Like I said, if you are happy with how Chrome OS works, you are good to go with this. If I had to be picky, I would add something like Bluetooth to this so I can attach a Bluetooth Mouse/Keyboard combo so I don’t need to use a wired keyboard/mouse for this. However, options for this are available.
More information on the Acer Chromebox CXI is available on the following ACER page:
It comes in two models, featuring 2 or 4GB of RAM, though not much else is different. Our review model was the 2GB RAM version.
It retails for around £180, and can be found on various online retailers, including Amazon:
The Acer ChromeBox CXI combines a few worlds: PC, ChromeCast and Chrome OS. It does so elegantly. The only thing that may go against it could be the price. However, you get a lot for your money.