Acer’s newest Chromebox packs more power, 4k video support

When you think of using a computer with a 4k video monitor, a Chromebox probably doesn’t come to mind. After all, those little boxes are just wimpy little browsers, right? Acer is out to prove that thought wrong by adding an Intel Core i3 option to its Chromebox CXI series.

Acer Chromebox CXI Top Angle View

The company announced the new chip choice on Thursday, with a starting suggested price of $349.99. That gets you a box capable of running [company]Google[/company] Chrome OS with support for up to 3840 x 2160 resolution. Along with the 1.9GHz Core i3 4030U dual-core processor, you’ll get 16GB of on-board flash storage and your choice of either 4 or 8GB of memory; the latter choice raises the cost to $399.99.

Given the recent Superfish scandal, I’m not surprised Acer made note of the security features built into its new Chromebox:

Multiple layers of security encompass data encryption and verified boot to safeguard the CXI against online threats, malware and viruses. User and system files are stored on separate partitions that secure data and simplify restoration from a backup. The Chromebox’s TPM 1.2 chip encrypts and protects individual user’s data by generating and storing secure cryptographic keys. In addition, individual accounts keep data safe when the device is used by multiple users.

Previously, Acer offered much lower-costing Chromeboxes: You could pick one up for as little as $179.99.

But at that price, you’re getting an older 1.4GHz Intel Celeron chip inside. Granted, Chrome OS runs pretty well on limited hardware — there are some models that use chips typically reserved for smartphones and tablets — however, the extra horsepower and memory in the new Acer Chromebox CXI models would be welcome for video playback having more open tabs or apps, particularly if you have a 4k resolution monitor for your Chromebox.



Google makes it easier to back up media from Chromebooks to Drive

It’s no secret that Chromebooks rely heavily on Google Drive cloud storage. The devices have the capability to store data locally, of course, but Google provides far more capacity in the cloud and even integrates Google Drive into the Files app on Chromebooks.

Now the company is looking to improve the process of backing up local files to the cloud, particularly those on removable media. [company]Google[/company]’s François Beaufort is keeping us up to date on the experimental feature, which for now is called Cloud Backup.

cloud-backup Chrome OS

On Thursday, Beaufort provided the latest update, explaining how to use Cloud Backup to automatically sync photos and videos from a memory card or USB drive to Google Drive in Chrome OS:

Insert any removable media device such as a USB key or a SD Card which contains at its root the famous DCIM folder. Then, navigate to this folder and notice the ‘cloud’ icon at the very top right corner. Click on it and you’re done! Your photos and videos will be automatically synced to your Google Drive under a newly created photos folder.

The Cloud Backup feature is available to any Chrome OS device but you have to be using the Dev channel of Google’s operating system.

The Dev channel is generally considered to the most cutting-edge version of Chrome OS, because it has many experimental features and is updated the most often. By comparison, the Beta channel is updated every two weeks or so, while new features graduate to the Stable channel every six weeks.

This means that as Google refines Cloud Backup, it will eventually migrate over time to all users. My hope is that Chrome OS users will have the option to enable or disable Cloud Backup, though: With some Chromebooks getting just 100 or 200 GB of Drive storage, heavy camera users could lose track of their free space in the cloud.

Hard to find Asus Chromebox earns good reviews

Some people who pre-ordered the Asus Chromebox saw their delivery date come and go while others were able to rustle up a unit in retail stores. Is there an issue of supply or demand? Tune in to our weekly podcast to hear our thoughts.