It’s no secret that Google Hangouts are a cheap and easy way for businesses to videoconference, and Chromeboxes — dedicated hardware for bringing Hangouts to TVs — have made it easy for many offices to integrate their existing equipment.
There are limitations, however. Big conference rooms mean people who aren’t close to the microphone or camera will have a hard time getting their message across to remote users. That’s why Google is upgrading its Chromebox offering for larger meeting rooms: The new bundle includes a pan-and-tilt camera, dual USB microphone/speaker units and support for dual screens.
In addition, Chromebox now offers a full-screen mode. If you’ve ever shared your screen with a group, and been annoyed that the ever-present strip of people thumbnails blocks the bottom of your presentation, full-screen mode will fix that.
The new Chromebox for meetings bundle includes dual mic/speakers and a pan-and-tilt camera.
There are now administrator tools for Chromebox, too. Admins will now be able to troubleshoot Chrome devices remotely, and delegate admin privileges to other users. These tools and the full-screen mode will come to existing Chromeboxes via a software upgrade.
The new, biggie-size Chromebox bundle costs $1,999 (the original bundle is still available for $999), which is still a lot cheaper than a fully tricked-out system from Cisco or Polycom. Google Hangouts have more competition on the bottom end than ever, though: Upstarts like BlueJeans and Highfive are winning over big clients, and Microsoft’s Skype for Business is also in the mix.
If videoconferencing is ripe for disruption, that secret is out.