At a small media event in Mountain View today, Google announced the launch of Chromebox for Meetings, a $999 Core i7-based ASUS Chromebox setup with a remote, camera and microphone for conference rooms. The system uses Hangouts in the backend and is also compatible with existing conferencing setups from Vidyo and UberConference (for phone calls).

The system includes all the components necessary to run a meeting, with the exception of a display. For the first year, users donít have to pay any additional costs; after that, the cost is $250 per year. The product is available in the U.S. today and is coming to Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and U.K. Businesses in the U.S. will be able to buy it through CDW, and resellers will be able to get it from SYNNEX. Both HP and Dell will make Chromeboxes for meetings available in the coming months.

The system is deeply integrated with Google Calendar, which will also allow you to schedule conference rooms. The display will always show the schedule for the room (and rotate pictures in the background). If youíve ever set up a Chromecast, the design will look very familiar.

Because the system uses Hangouts in the background, users can attend these meetings from any device that can run Hangouts. In total, Chromebox for Meetings supports up to 15 video streams (Hangouts itself tops out at 10 streams). As these streams will often go out over the public Internet, they will be encrypted.
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--jeremy