Asus Chromebox M004U review: Web-based life in desktop form, just add peripherals

Reviewing a Chromebox, any Chromebox, is a challenge. All you get is a small, featureless box. It runs a simple OS based on a web browser. So hunting around for points of differentiation between Chromebox A and Chromebox B is difficult.

At least Chromebooks bear all the hardware features of a typical PC notebook. They include a keyboard and display, and can be evaluated for their weight, shape and overall suitability as travel machines. But a Chromebox just… sits there. It can be a capable, desk-top vehicle for accessing the web via Google Chrome, and not much more.

So how should we compare Chromeboxes? Well, once you determine whether Chrome OS can meet your needs, you have to look at processing power and price.

The Chromebox can replace a normal PC desktop setup.

In 2012, Google handed out Core i5-based Samsung 300M Chromeboxes to attendees of its Google I/O conference, and I used the hardware as one of my main “PCs” for months afterward. I don’t think I ever challenged its limits from a processor standpoint-and maybe I wasn’t alone, as Samsung moved to a lower-performing dual-core Celeron in its Series 3 Chromebox.

Flash forward to the here and now: Asus is in the Chromebox game, and I recommend that if you’re going to buy one of these “PCs,” you should select the $179 dual-core Celeron version of the new Asus Chromebox instead of the pricier Core i3 and Core i7 options. The price is sweet, and you don’t need Core-caliber power to run a web browser.

Physically, the Asus Chromebox is one of the more compact Chromebox options available: It measures just 4.9 inches by 4.9 inches by 1.67 inches. And if that footprint isn’t small enough, Asus includes a bracket for mounting it on a wall.

The Asus Chromebox CN60 includes a mounting bracket.

Asus placed two USB 3.0 ports on the front of the box; a MMC/SD slot and a keyboard lock on the side; and power, Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort, a headphone/mic jack, and two more USB 3.0 slots on the rear. Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 are included as well.

Few real-life applications can stress-test a Chromebox besides a multi-party Google Hangout and a few browser-based applications. In our synthetic benchmarks, however, the Asus Chromebox blew away the Chromebook Series 3 but slightly underperformed the Promotional Codes-it-hits-a-sweet-spot.html”>Toshiba CB35-A3120, which we reviewed in February. In our SunSpider test, the Asus Chromebox returned a score of 423 ms, and generated a score of 2,661 in our PeaceKeeper test.

There are plenty of connectivity options.

Subjectively, the Asus Chromebox felt snappy, both while browsing the web and playing a few Flash games. (Java and Silverlight remain unsupported, and, remember, the number of ChromeOS packaged apps is still woefully small.)

The M004U comes with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM, plus Intel integrated graphics, but the key spec might be storage: There’s 16 GB of internal flash, plus 100GB of Google’s Google Drive cloud storage for not one, but two years.

From a productivity standpoint, we’re inclined to recommend a Chromebook like the $279 Toshiba CB35-A3120 for people who have their hearts set on Chrome OS hardware. A Chromebook, after all, can be picked up and moved from place to place. But if you already own a modern monitor and keyboard, the Asus CN60’s dirt-cheap $179 price point for accessing the Web looks awfully appealing. (Asus plans to sell a “custom designed keyboard and mouse package for Chrome OS” starting in April.)

(Note: The sample Asus provided for review bears a “CN60” product number, but Asus confirmed that it is identical to the M004U.)

TA Plays Live: Flapping Forever

Discountp>Yesterday was a ton of fun, so, let’s see if we can do better today before we move on to tomorrow’s MEGA NEW ZEALAND GAME STREAM! Flappy Bird is in the news again, and I’ve still got it on my iPad… You know what that means. Anyway, if you haven’t yet, please follow us as it’s the best way to get notified when we’re streaming.

To tune into the TA Plays Live stream you’ve got three options:

  • The easiest is to just scroll down to see the embedded video stream and chat below. Make sure to turn the volume slider up if you want to hear game audio and commentary.
  • Visit the TouchArcade channel on Twitch directly and watch over there.
  • Download the Twitch.TV app [Free] and either hit this link on your device or simply search for the channel TouchArcade.

I usually stream until 6:00 PM Central, so stick with us until then. Also, if you follow us and I notice it you’ll get a very special thank you.

Platformer Shoot ‘em Up Hybrid ‘Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork’ Launching Next Week

Couponp>Back in late January, a trailer caught my eye for a game called Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork, an upcoming iOS project that blended the comic stylings of James Kochalka with the video game chops of Pixeljam Games. Not only was it a mashup of two creative entities, but it was also a mashup of gaming genres, with traditional platforming gameplay mixed in with Galaga-style shoot ‘em up action. Based on this trailer, it looks like a match made in heaven.

Well, if you’re excited for Glorkain Warrior like I am, you’ll be happy to know that the game has managed its way through the Apple approval process and is set to launch next week on March 13th. In addition to the game, James Kochalka has created a Glorkian Warrior graphic novel called ‘The Glorkian Warrior Delivers a Pizza’ which will be available on March 25th. I’m not a big comic person, but I’m actually quite stoked to pick up both the iOS game and the book to get the full Glorkian Warrior effect, and you can currently pre-order the graphic novel on Amazon prior to its launch date.

Be on the lookout for Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork next week, and hit up our forums for some discussion.

BusinessWest

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LoveFilm to rebrand as Amazon Prime Instant Video in Europe

European streaming video service LoveFlim is getting rebranded as Prime Instant Video in the U.K. and Germany, the service’s owner amazon prime announced today.

LoveFilm provides people with unlimited access to a large library of movies and TV shows as well as the ability to rent DVDs and Blu-rays by mail for a monthly fee. It’s a direct competitor to the U.S.-dominant streaming service Netflix, which has launched in many European markets in the last year.

The rebrand will streamline Amazon’s streaming video service with its domestic counterpart, despite the fact that Amazon doesn’t offer a standalone monthly Prime Instant Video subscription service in the U.S. Yet, the company will include complementary access to the streaming video service for European customers that subscribe to Amazon’s annual Prime membership - just as it does in the U.S.

There’s two big things to note about LoveFilm’s rebranding. The first is that Amazon clearly wants to combat growing competition from Netflix under its own name. Also, a unified “Prime Instant Video” branding is much easier to push from a marketing standpoint.

The second - and more interesting - thing to note is that the rebranding could back up rumors of Amazon launching its own set-top box in March. That’s assuming the set-top box will eventually go on sale in Europe.

As for LoveFilm, Amazon plans to pull the trigger on the rebranding February 26.

Super Bowl ticket prices keep falling

For all you coupon-clippers, sale shoppers and deal mongers, this is your moment.

Deal News-bowl-xlviii-000249.topic”>Super Bowl XLVIII tickets on the secondary market - the game has long been sold out - having peaked at an average of almost $3,500 a seat two weeks ago, rallied briefly this week after collapsing to about $2,000 a ticket this past weekend. But the rally is over, the retreat inevitable.

According to ticket reseller SeatGeek, Super Bowl tickets crept up to an average of $2,376 on Tuesday as favorable weather reports showed arctic air fleeing the New York region this weekend, but seats can be had for just over $1,200 as of Friday morning.

Accuweather.com now predicts a high of 49 degrees Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

It would be a great irony if the “first cold-weather Super Bowl” came close to meeting the NFL's rule that Super Bowl host cities average a high of 50 degrees in February.

Even stranger is the chance that if such a balmy temperature stays around until game time, this northern, outdoor Super Bowl won’t even be the coldest on record. Super Bowl VI in 1972, which pitted the Dallas Cowboys versus the Miami Dolphins in New Orleans at the outdoor Tulane Stadium, was a chilly 39 degrees at kickoff.

But even if the temperatures heat up, ticket prices will not, SeatGeek’s Connor Gregoire said.

As big games approach, prices always fall. Gregoire said this year has had some anomalies, but mostly holds to historical patterns. Two interesting trends have been the glut of tickets available, more than 18,000 earlier this week, and the high volume of sales this close to Super Bowl Sunday.

Gregoire said 35 percent more tickets were sold on Tuesday than on the Monday after the conference championship games, normally the highest volume day for the resale market. He believes the chance of inclement weather, and a winter that so far has been bitter cold in the Northeast, kept many consumers on the sidelines until forecasts improved.

The secondary market doesn’t provide the NFL with any additional revenue. The league set face values of $500 to $2,500 for Super Bowl tickets.

Ticket reseller Razorgator said even as Super Bowl XLVIII ticket prices plunge the National Football League’s title tilt still rules supreme over other sports championships.

As of Friday, the overall average for a Super Bowl XLVIII ticket sat at $2,660, dwarfing tickets for professional golf’s pinnacle, The Masters, which commanded an average of $1,198 last year, and that includes four days of access to the course.

The NCAA's Final Four men's basketball championship averaged $912, and its football title game set back fans an average of $1,455.

Razorgator spokesperson Christi Goza said the most expensive ticket sold this year remains a lower bowl seat along the 50-year-line for $10,000.

Gregoire said as of Friday morning the cheapest seats remain in the upper deck, and have fallen to as little as $1,272. Lower bowl seats can be had for just $1,800, and club seats have begun to tumble as well with 200-level club seats starting at $2,400 and 100-level club seats at $3,000.

Club seats held their value earlier in the week, at $5,000 and higher, Gregoire said, due to the chance of bitter cold weather - the club seats have access to a heated concourse.

In a bit of good news for Seattle Seahawks fans, they might outnumber Denver Broncos fans 2 to 1 on Sunday in the Meadowlands. Gregoire said ticket sale traffic from Washington is double the traffic from Colorado, though most sales, about 30 percent, are coming from the New York/New Jersey region.

jdmalone@mcall.com 610-820-6530

Freak Southern storm blamed for at least 13 deaths

Thousands of students were stranded at schools in the Atlanta area.

ATLANTA - The arctic blast crippling much of the deep South has caused at least 13 deaths and created havoc for millions, prompting six states to declare emergencies and bringing criticism on the National Weather Service for its forecasting.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Best Buy, who mobilized the National Guard on Wednesday to rescue Atlanta-area motorists stranded on snarled, icebound freeways, blamed the state’s early response on the Weather Service, which predicted the chaotic storm would hit farther south.

Tuesday’s snowfall brought just 2.6 inches of snow to Atlanta, but it was a one-day record and enough to hamstring the region, creating nightmares for commuters, truckers, students and their families. Hundreds of flights were grounded at Hartsfield International Airport - the nation’s busiest.

Deal declared a state of emergency for Georgia. Similar declarations were issued for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, At least nine people died in traffic accidents, including five in Alabama, two in North Carolina and 1 in Florida. Four people, including a three-month-old infant, were killed early Tuesday in a Mississippi mobile home fire near Fulton caused by a faulty space heater.

Some commuters in the Atlanta metro area pleaded for help via cellphones while holed up in their cars; others gave up and trudged miles to their homes. Deal said there had been “significant progress” rescuing kids stranded at schools in counties around Atlanta, but at least 2,000 remained at schools in Atlanta, Fulton, Cobb and Douglas Counties.

Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist with the University of Georgia and president of the American Meteorological Society, said neither meteorologists nor the forecast for the Atlanta area was to blame.

"The buses had a tough time getting kids home, but meteorologists should not be thrown under the bus," he said.

At 3:39 a.m. Tuesday, Marshall said the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the entire Atlanta metro area, expecting 1-2 inches of snow. “Overall, the Atlanta event was a well-forecasted and well-warned event,” he said.

The weather service did say in an online briefing Tuesday morning, “Leave work early if you can to avoid the rush and wintry precipitation combination.” Drivers did so, which is what led to the traffic chaos.

Deal said the weather service “had continually had modeling showing Atlanta would not be the primary area (of the storm). It would be south of Atlanta.”

Politicians of weather-stricken cities and states often face harsh criticism for slow response to disasters. Deal, a Republican, faces re-election this year. He said his goal was to reach every stranded driver “and make sure we have enough shelter to get them off the roads and get them someplace warm.”

Along with Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is likely to face scrutiny in the coming days over the handling of the storm.

Today meteorologist Al Roker said the traffic nightmare in Atlanta was caused by “poor planning on the mayor and governor’s part.” Dalton, Ga., Mayor David Pennington, who’s running against Deal for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said, “Government’s primary role is to protect the people; Nathan Deal has failed miserably once again.”

"I’m willing to accept whatever blame comes my way," Deal said. "And if I’m responsible for it, I’ll accept that."

Reed defended his handling of the situation. “We got 1 million people out of the city of Atlanta in about 12 hours,” Reed said. Moreover, the city’s response was better than after “Snowmageddon 2011,” the winter storm that paralyzed the Atlanta metro that year, Reed said. “Unlike the last event, when we had four pieces of equipment in Atlanta, this time we had 70 pieces of equipment, and we knew how to use it.”

STORY: STORY: STORY: Storm woes depend on where you live Atlanta ‘like a scene from ‘The Walking Dead’ Heroes emerge from storm chaos

Reed said many of stranded motorists were on interstate highways, which are maintained by the state.

"This has been an ordeal for everyone," said Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale. "This storm and the bitter temperatures have caused so much difficulty, discomfort and anxiety for so many Georgians. We believe roadways will be restored to some level of normalcy today but would encourage the public to remain home, preferably all day."

A police officer in suburban Atlanta helped assist the safe delivery of a baby girl on a gridlocked interstate Tuesday after snow and ice brought traffic to a crawl.

Southbound traffic on Interstate 575 between Georgia Highway 20 and Riverstone Parkway is bottlenecked Jan. 28 in Canton, Ga.(Photo: Kelly J. Huff, AP)

Sandy Springs Police Capt. Steve Rose told the Associated Press that a traffic officer arrived on the scene minutes before the infant.

A vehicle ran off the road during a snowstorm Jan. 28 in Canton, Ga.(Photo: Kelly J. Huff, The Marietta Daily Journal, via AP)

"Fortunately he had his emergency lights on and people got out of his way," Rose said. "The delivery was pretty flawless."

Debbie Hartwig, a waitress at an Atlanta area waffle house, said she managed to keep her cool thanks in part to the kindness of strangers after 10 hours on the road.

"I’m calm," she said. "That’s all you can be. People are helping each other out, people are moving cars that have spun out or had become disabled. It’s been really nice. I even saw people passing out hot coffee and granola bars."

In Alabama, where the storm stranded thousands at work, school or in cars overnight, mass school and business closings remained in Birmingham and Mobile. Gov. Robert Bentley’s office said rescue personnel and medics in state aircraft were flying over Jefferson and Shelby counties conducting search and rescue missions for stranded motorists.

Both the timing and the amount of snow was not accurately forecast in Birmingham. Well-known Alabama TV meteorologist James Spann of ABC 33/40 said, “In terms of human impact, yesterday’s forecast ‘bust’ was the most significant for me since January 1982.”

"I will say I have never seen this kind of impact on roads with 1 to 2 inches of snow in Alabama in my 35 years as a professional meteorologist. There was clear human suffering as a result of my bad forecast," Spann said.

Louisiana highway officials closed over 20 highways due to icy conditions, including Interstate 10. There were limited flights in and out of New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport.

In South Carolina, state police reported over 800 traffic collisions since Tuesday afternoon. The Arthur Ravenel Bridge linking Charleston and Mount Pleasant on U.S. 17, as well as the bridges linking the two communities on Interstate 526 remained closed Wednesday afternoon. Bridges linking Hilton Hea d Island to the mainland were also closed for a time at midday Wednesday because of accidents on the icy spans.

Contributing: Talia Richman, in McLean, Va.; Associated Press

While the storm that gripped much of the Deep South has moved into the Atlantic, there is little chance of significant melting of untreated roads and bridges until Thursday. Most residents are unaccustomed to driving in such conditions.

Jeff Cox, a Dunkin’ Donuts store manager in Montgomery, AL., said he fishtailed several times in his Nissan Pathfinder going home from work.

"You feel helpless when your car is going sideways," he said. "We don’t get this a lot. I don’t think anybody here was really prepared. There was so much ice on the road, you were easily slipping and sliding. The South is just not equipped to have this much ice on the road."

Dallas’ Best Real Estate Deals nominations coming to a close

Review-real-estate-deals-nominations-coming.html?s=image_gallery”>

Everything’s a bit bigger in Dallas, or that was the mantra at last year’s Best Real Estate Deals Awards when deal-mammoth State Farm Insurance walked away with the Best Deal of the Year.

This year, anything could happen. But the window for nominations is coming to a close Friday.

The Best Real Estate Awards program will recognize Dallas-Fort Worth’s top real estate deals, from large leases to dirt-flying developments, in the annual awards banquet scheduled for Tuesday, April 29.

The Dallas Business Journal has honored the region’s top deals for the past 22 years, recognizing some of Dallas’ legacy projects.

This past year was a big year in Dallas real estate. In December, I told you about my seven picks for the top real estate projects to shape Dallas-Fort Worth

Amazon coupon codes 2014 Cell Phone deals discount up to 90% off

Reports about comments’ content

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Amazon coupon codes Cell Phone 2014 Deals have started and I have found the best deals at Amazon. There is a huge assortment of cellular phones at unbeatable prices.

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This year’s Amazon coupon codes Cell Phone 2014 Deals will be great online and offline. I predict that you’ll see a battle between brick and motor retailers an internet-based retailers.

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Snow continues overnight, heaviest south of Boston

Snow has started in parts of southern New England, but remains relatively light. South of Boston, especially towards Cape Cod, the roads are snow covered and travel is slow. North of the Massachusetts Turnpike there is less snow as only a few flurries have fallen.

If you are not already following my updates on Twitter you can get them there @growingwisdom

It’s been a cold afternoon and this snow event will occur in very cold air. This means it will take less moisture to make each inch of snow. If you melted an inch of the snow from Saturday and compared it to an inch of tonight’s snow, Saturday’s inch would have 2 or 3 times as much water!

How big is this storm?
There is a blizzard warning up for Cape Cod, coastal Massachusetts south of Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.weather radar/weather_wisdom/assets_c/2014/01/new%20warnings-124065.html”>A blizzard means the visibility is expected to fall under one-quarter of a mile for three hours in a row due to snow falling or blowing snow. It’s not an indication of the amount of snow.

For most of us, this is a typical January snowstorm, but it will have impact. Around Boston 6 to 9 inches of snow is a good number have in mind when thinking about the storm. Areas south of city will have several more inches, while other areas well west of Route 495 don’t see that amount. This isn’t a long duration storm and the snow will be light, not wet. The evening commute will be impacted mostly south of Boston with the Wednesday morning commute impacted mostly east of Route 495 and south of Route 2.

Timing of the snow
As mentioned snow is now overspreading the area and will continue to do so throughout the evening commute. I expect any accumulation to be low before 6 PM. The snow will be heaviest from 8PM until about 6AM Wednesday. The snow will end over western areas of Worcester County first around 6 AM and the outer part of Cap Cod last, around 1PM

The two maps below show projections for how the radar and snowfall totals will turn out this afternoon and evening. These are based on models which are relatively new, but do give a good idea of trend.

How much snow?
The heaviest totals remain over the southeastern part of the state. There will be a sharp drop in snow totals as you get west of Route 495. While Cape Cod is in the 8 to 12 inch band, I put a line to indicate where higher amounts could occur. I believe Boston itself ends up around that 6 inch total give or take an inch or two. That’s why this is a moderate storm for the city, but a more major storm south.

Wind and drifting
Winds are going to be quite gusty during the storm. I am not expecting winds to reach damaging levels, but since the snow will be very light, it won’t take much wind to blow it around into drifts. The wind will whip up the snow enough to cause visibility issues overnight Tuesday. I do not recommend travel, especially along the coast from now through early Wednesday.

School delays and cancellations
Some afternoon activities might be impacted today, but there will be many delays and cancellations on Wednesday.

Airport travel
This storm will hit Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York earlier this afternoon. Air travel will definitely see issues today and continuing into Wednesday. Call ahead and bring your patience. We have seen how these storms are having bigger impacts to air travel than one might expect.

Cold air and wind chill
Behind any snow, cold continues with frigid temperatures the rest of the week. Wind chills will be in the single numbers above or below zero Tuesday night and continue to be low through mid-week. There will be some moderation in the cold for the weekend before more frigid air returns next week. The cold pattern is likely to continue through the first week of February.