Caesar Sengupta reaches into his hip pocket and pulls out a PC. About the size of a cigar, it’s a tiny PC. But it’s a PC. If you plug it into an LCD display or a TV, you can run the sort of software you typically run on a personal computer, from word processors and spreadsheets and email to online video.
This is the Asus Chromebit, and according to Sengupta, it will reach the market this summer, priced at less than a hundred dollars. Sengupta is the Google vice president who helps oversee the distribution of Chrome OS, the Google operating system that runs the Chromebit. The device is a bit like the Google Chromecast—the digital stick that plugs into your television and streams video from the internet—but it does more. Google pitches it as something that lets you walk up to any LCD display and instantly transform it into viable computer, whether it’s sitting on a desk in a classroom, mounted on the wall in an office conference room, or hanging above the checkout counter in a retail store or fast food joint. “Think about an internet cafe,” Sengupta says during a gathering at Google’s San Francisco offices. “Think about a school lab.”