Samsung XE 300M Chromebox pictures and hands-on

The Chromebox is actually a very good idea. Between them, Samsung and Google are trying to make a computer that costs less than a normal PC, but still offered access to the world of cloud computing.

How well it has succeeded probably depends on what you need in a computer. The Chromebox has plenty of connectivity options, including an impressive two DisplayPort connections, and a DVI port. There are six USB ports too - four on the back, two on the front - so you can hook up pretty much everything you could ever need. Ethernet is provided too, and runs at Gigabit speeds, which we're very pleased to see on a device so reliant on networking. There's Wi-Fi too, up to 802.11n speeds for those who don't want to use cables.

We aren't so keen on the fact that there's no SD card slot. With a device like this, you could argue that such things aren't so important, but for us, working with photos from digital cameras is a big part of our day, and for us to switch to a Chromebox, we need a bit more flexibility.

The chromebox is powered by an Intel "Core" processor, and has 4GB of RAM, which is decent enough to run Windows, so Chrome should really fly. The fact you can run two monitors from it is also great, and means that people in love with multi-monitor should get on fine.

It is a shame that Google has ignored HDMI. Although DisplayPort and DVI are both easily compatible with HDMI, they both require an adaptor, which while not expensive, is still more of a hassle than we think is fair. HDMI has clearly been excluded because of the licence fee, to keep costs down. That said, most monitors still support DVI - and VGA is supposed, again, via an adaptor - so there is flexibility here.

The size is roughly comparable to an old Apple TV, and smaller than the Mac Mini. That said, this machine can do a lot less than a Mac, and while a lot of people do work mostly in the cloud, we still think they'll miss the simplicity of a normal computer. Perhaps switching to a full version of Linux is the answer here, because so doing would mean you have a powerful, secure computer that is super-compact, for very little money.

For many companies though, Chrome has more than enough to offer many employees. So there really is the potential here to remove the expensive-to-support windows desktops. Although, of course, employers will have to be happy to trust their documents to the cloud. More specifically, Google's cloud.

Could this ever replace your office PC?