Like mobile phones, laptops kept on getting smaller, until they didn't. No one wants to read email on a postcard-size screen or type on keys the size of Tic Tacs.
But do away with those elements and you can make an impressively tiny--and cheap--"laptop." That's what Google has done with the Chromebit, an offshoot from its popular line of Chromebook computers that resembles a highlighter marker and will cost less than $100 when it goes on sale this summer.
"At that price point, you can now bring computing to a whole new set of use cases," Caesar Sengupta, vice president of product management, said Monday during an event in which new Chrome devices were previewed for members of the press.
Made by Asus, the Chromebit has the same internals as a Chromebook. A USB 2.0 port, HDMI connection, and Bluetooth chip make it easy to connect to any monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
Google envisions it being popular with schools, which can upgrade their existing computers on the cheap, and travelers, who can plug in their Chromebits at internet cafÃ©s and bypass outdated machines. But one use case considered particularly promising is providing the computing power for increasingly ubiquitous video screens in retail stores, airports, and other locations.
"The possibilities of this are pretty endless," Sengupta said.