The best 'self-contained' video conference machine I've used in the last year is:
1. $400 less up front than the Chromebox
2. Has an annual service fee $200 less than the Chromebox
3. Has a camera with awesome built in face detection (if one person is in the room it centers on their face, if three people are in it automatically expands to fit them all in, if you wander around the room it follows + refocuses on your face).
4. Is voice controlled.
5. Plays Lego Marvel Superheroes at 1080p.
The XBox One and their Skype integration is really well thought out and solves most of the annoyances surrounding video conferencing, focal length, bad speakerphone mics, etc. highly recommended.
Skype doesn't allow screen sharing or video chat for 3 or more participants without a paid premium plan.
Once you've got that, Skype's screen sharing leaves a bit to be desired. Hangouts allows for screen sharing of individual app windows, which I consistently miss when using Skype.
Additionally, Skype video calls under the premium plan have a fair use policy with a limit of 4 hours per session with a monthly cap of 100 hours total. That may be okay for an individual, but is probably not the best solution for something sitting in a conference room shared across a company.
sure, but even without Chromebox, Hangouts is still a pretty good offer. A few friends and I are working abroad (in the US, Canada and UK), and we keep in touch at scheduled times on Hangouts. Chromebox is not really meant for individual consumers, but Skype's proposition also loses out to Hangouts there when I need to have credits or a premium account to talk to more than one person.
Of course, it's also a matter of business models and how each company earns its revenue. However as the end user, "free" is better than $x/month
As usual, Google picks the Intel-solution over a cheaper solution for political reasons (just like with the original Chromebooks, original Google TV, etc), and ends up failing, because the price is not competitive in the market for that type of product that it is.