MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) -- Just when you thought computers couldn't get any smaller.
This summer, Google (with Asus) is unveiling a full computer that will cost less than $100. It looks like a memory stick or maybe a high-tech highlighter, but it's a full-fledged quad core processor computer with 16 gig hard drive and 2 gigs of ram. Just plug it into any TV with an HDMI port available.
The revolution in computing is possible because:
a) TVs (basically just nice monitors) with HDMI ports are available everywhere from your grocery store to your boardroom, your SUVs DVD system to your church.
b) WiFi is everywhere (and required to make this work properly)
c) Cloud-based computing allows the hard-core processing to be done in part on remote servers, with the results sent to your screen
Any company could corner the market on this, but Google has a pretty good start. Just like the Apple Macintosh changed the world of computing with its all-in-one device 31 years ago, devices like this have the potential to change how we think about computers. Steve Jobs designed his Mac so that it would run only Apple and Apple-approved software on only Apple hardware, in what he felt was a beautiful and perfect symbiosis. Google's Chrome computers follow similar concepts of marrying hardware to proprietary software (now running in the cloud). Sure, you can use Google's applications from any computer. But by using ONLY Google's applications (and whatever is available online), the Google hardware can be designed smaller, cheaper, and faster.
Other companies have dabbled in the dongle computer space for at least a year. Intel has a $150 Windows 8 stick computer and Chinese companies have an Android dongle computer as Gizmodo reports.
How long batteries last, and what performance looks like (and how the keyboard and mouse will be hooked up) are all yet to be announced.
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