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Take Another Look at ASUS

ASUS Chromebook
When we started providing Chrome devices to schools, options were limited. Today, nearly every major and secondary workstation manufacturer has at least a small line of Chrome devices. While this gives you more options, the choices can be overwhelming.

Recently, we took a fresh look at ASUS, and we think you should as well. Here are 4 reasons why:

1) Quality
When ASUS entered the Chromebook market, they did so with a low-cost, low-end unit that had a spinning disk drive. The brand was perceived as not having the quality to survive the K-12 environment. Since then, however, ASUS has led the market with advances in the Chromebox and has released models like the C200 and C300 that are proving themselves in the real world.

2) Service and Support
ASUS is standing by its products. ASUS is the only brand that includes accidental damage in its standard 1 year warranty. The coverage covers one repair during the year, but can be customized to extend the number of years and/or incidents covered.  The need for 3rd party coverage is gone.

3) Creativity
Looking at ASUS’s line of Android Tablets and in their Windows products, we see ASUS bringing many of the same creative form factors (advanced touch screen, flip, and “2 in 1”) to the Chrome device market. And we reasonably expect these new devices to be price competitive with the bigger players on the market.

4) Market Position
While not a small company by any stretch of the imagination, ASUS is still a relatively small player in the Chrome device market. ASUS is eager to grow and makes it easier for resellers to create custom solutions for you, our customers.


Interested enough to kick the tires, contact us to arrange a free evaluation kit.


 

 

Beauty in the Box

Asus Chromebox
It looks simple enough. A small form factor desktop computer running Chrome OS. In it’s native mode, the Chromebox lets you access any website and any cloud-based service with a web interface that you can imagine or ever want.

What makes the Chromebox really beautiful, however, is what it can do when assigned to special tasks.

Kiosks

Bundled with the Chrome Management Service, you can easily configure Chromeboxes to run as a single application kiosk. Whether providing information to customers in your store, allowing visitors to check in at the lobby desk, or to provide games for kids to play in your waiting room, the small form factor and easy setup make Chromeboxes an affordable solution to install and maintain.

Chromebox for Meetings

For less than $1,000, you can enable video conferencing in almost any small or mid-size conference room. Bundled with an HD camera, an HD conference speaker/microphone, and management software, you can link the device to the conference room calendar. Video conference setup is automatic and attendees can start the conference with a single press of a button on the remote control. Easier to use than traditional video conferencing, you can share presentation materials from any participant in the meeting.

Digital Signage

Combine the kiosk capabilities of the Chromebox with free or low cost tools, and your Chromebox becomes one of the most affordable digital signage solutions on the market. Securely manage display presentation and content remotely from any web-connected device without investing in expensive, proprietary systems.


If you are interested in or need kiosk, video conferencing, or digital signage solution, contact us to discuss your needs and evaluate solutions.


 

 

Chromebook SSO Eases Access Administration

google-chromebook
Single Sign-On (SSO) enables users to access multiple systems and applications with a single username and password, and a single login screen.  And while many schools and businesses use SSO for Google Apps and related solutions, Chrome devices have always required a separate login.

To easy access administration and simplify user logins, Google has launched SAML-based SSO login for Chrome devices.   Organizations running current versions of Chrome on devices registered via Chrome Management licenses can now extend their Google Apps SSO login to the registered Chrome devices.

Feel free to contact us if you would like more information or assistance with your setup.

 

Lease vs Buy: Time to Rethink Your Options

Key for buy and lease
Historically, the “lease versus buy” decision for IT purchases focused on a business’ cash flow and the impact major projects would have on company financial statements.  CFOs would look at leasing options when cash flow was an issue, and to see if the capital expenditures or operating costs would best benefit ROI and other key metrics.

Three factors drive the need to take a fresh look at leasing versus buying:

  1. Trends in End User Devices
  2. Moves to Cloud Computing
  3. Interest Rates & Economy

End User Devices: With organizations moving away from traditional desktops and laptops to Chromebooks, tablets, hybrids, ultra-portables, and smartphones, the life cycle of end-user devices is changing.  These devices are not designed to last as long and compatibility with advancing systems and services is lost more quickly.  The original iPad, for example, was release in early 2010 and became obsolete with the release of iOS 6 in September 2012.

The impact on businesses is that, even though they are much less expensive, refresh and upgrade cycles will need to happen more frequently if devices are to remain connected to applications and systems.

Moves to Cloud ComputingAs companies move to cloud computing the need to maintain hardware platforms to support legacy applications is dwindling.  And, the impact of IT as an operating expense versus capital expenditure is advantageous to the vast majority of small and mid-size enterprises.  The concept of monthly recurring fees is generally accepted, although many vendors charge a small premium for monthly versus annual prepaid fees.

The impact on businesses is that the flexibility in licensing and costs, and cash flow benefits come, at a higher price than one-time purchases and annual payments.  Leasing can mitigate these costs.

Interest Rates and the Economy: With a long, slow recovery and continued low interest rates, the finance costs for leasing have rarely been as low as they are currently. Even as the Federal Reserve tapers and ends its bond-buying stimulus, interest rates are expected to remain low as job growth struggles.

The impact for businesses is that the finance costs for most leasing opportunities are probably less than expected.

The Big Opportunity: Fair Market Value Leasing

Fair Market Value, or FMV, leases offer a unique, big opportunity for small and mid-size businesses today.

Win #1: FMV leases assume that you will return the equipment to the finance company and upgrade at the end of the lease.  As such, they match well with planned refresh cycles needed with today’s end user devices.

Win #2: The leasing company assigns a residual value to the assets.  Financing is based on the purchase price less the residual value, lowering the overall cost of the asset.

Win #3: At current interest rates, the interest cost of a 3-year lease may be less than the residual value of the asset, effectively creating a 0% or “Near 0%” financing option.

Win #4: Bundling annual prepaid cloud services lets you get the prepaid savings and still make payments monthly.  At current rates, the you will likely still pay less than monthly plans.

Win #5: You can combine hardware, cloud licenses, and services in your lease, giving you one payment for all services.  Leasing companies are flexible, with monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual payment plans in order to best meet your business’ financial needs.

Granted, leasing is not for every business.  But, it is probably worth some exploration before your next purchase.  Feel free to contact us to discuss your needs and available options.

 

 

Google Extends “End of Life” for ALL Chrome Devices

google-chromebook

Google is updating the official “End of Life” policy for all Chrome devices, including retroactive coverage to previous models.

This change extends the minimum “End of Life” (EOL) term from 3 years to 5 years, adding at least 2 additional years of automatic Chrome and security updates.  When a device’s EOL term is reached, Google no longer guarantees Chrome updates will be provided.

The new minimum EOL term is now 5 years from the date the device hardware is made available for purchase. Some models may have a further extension based on regional releases and the length of sale. Google will be updating the EOL policy and projected dates on the Chrome OS End of Life Policy page soon to reflect this change.

Cumulus Global Publishes Google Accessibility Overview

 

As more businesses, schools, government offices, and non-profits move to cloud computing and Google Apps, user accessibility becomes and important part of the evaluation, selection, and implementation processes.  To help organizations understand and plan for accessibility, Cumulus Global has published a Google Accessibility Overview report covering Google Apps, Chrome, and Chromebook / Chromebox devices.

“Accessibility goes beyond ADA and Section 508 compliance, it is about enabling individuals to work to their full potential,” notes Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “Our intent is to make it easier for organizations to understand how Google products and services fit with their accessibility needs.”

The report provides current information, along with links to all source materials so that readers may track updates and new capabilities over time.  The report is available for free at: http://goo.gl/sfu66.

Tuesday Take-Away: Chromebook Updates = More Value

Over the past four months, we have helped more than 50 schools and school districts introduce Chromebooks or expand their use of Chromebooks.  While some schools are creating carts that can move between classrooms, others are using Chromebooks as tools for specific learning modules and curricula and as their preferred device for 1:1 student computing programs.

Recent Chromebook Updates — hardware, software, and program — further enhance the value of Chromebooks for schools, libraries, and businesses.

New Chromebook Model

The new Samsung Chromebook Series-5 550 performs 3 times faster than the original Series-5 system, and includes may other improvements:

  • Double the RAM (4GB)
  • Intel Celeron Processor, an upgrade from the Atom processor in prior units
  • HD Webcam
  • Intel 3000 Graphics accelerator
  • Expanded external display options with a DisplayPort++ supporting VGA, DVI, and HDMI monitors
  • ChromeOS Management Service

New Chromebox

The new Chromebox is a notepad-sized computer designed to replace desktop systems where cloud-based apps are the norm and/or where VDI services are available for legacy applications. They also work well for kiosks and as public access computers in libraries.

The Chromebox features:

  • 4GB RAM
  • Intel Celeron Processor
  • Intel 3000 Graphics accelerator
  • External display options with a DisplayPort++ supporting VGA, DVI, and HDMI monitors
  • 6 USB 2.0 ports
  • ChromeOS Management Service

ChromeOS Updates

Google is currently releasing a new version of ChromeOS.  The new version includes features that look and feel more familiar to most users.  These include:

  • Multiple browser windows
  • The ability to move and re-size windows
  • A “desktop” space for listing and launching applications and web site

Initial feedback from our customers is very positive.

ChromeOS Management Service

One of the benefits of Chromebooks for Business and Chromebooks for Education is the integrated ChromeOS Management Service.  In changing the licensing structure of the service, the ChromeOS Management Service is now a “lifetime” license.  Google guarantees the ChromeOS Management Service will be supported for each Chromebook/Chromebox model for at least 3 years from the date the model is no longer available for sale.

Additionally, we can now offer the ChromeOS Management Service for Chromebooks that were purchased from retail outlets.

For more information about Chromebooks for Education and Chromebooks for Business, or to discuss if Chromebooks fit your “use cases”, please contact us for a free consultation.