I recently came across a review of Zonbu, the $99 PC that runs on Linux. It’s sort of the Mac Mini of the PC world–it’s just sold as the CPU itself, without input/output devices nor peripherals like a monitor, keyboard and mouse. However, what’s really compelling about Zonbu is the cost.
Looks like Zonbu broke the $100 barrier. At $99 you get a networkable PC that runs the latest open source software, has plug-and-play functionality with popular devices and gadgets like iPods, digital cameras and the like, and other features you would expect from a full-fledged computer (which the Zonbu actually is). One added benefit is that the subscription model includes secure, remote storage of your data and configuration, so you can be assured of the safety and security of your stuff. It’s like a cross between a thin client and a full-fledged personal computer, since you get to have data stored online instead of just residing locally.
Some quick specs.
- Via C7 ULV @1.2Ghz chipset
- 512 MB RAM
- Ethernet 10/100 Mbps
- PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, VGA display port and 6 USB ports
- 4GB CompactFlash (CF) local storage
- Graphics up to 2048 x 1536 with 16 million colors – hardware graphics and MPEG2 acceleration
Ron Miller has a review on CIO.com, and he highlights that while the Zonbu is aimed at home consumers, there is potential use in the business environments, too.
However, there is a catch. The $99 selling price is actually just for the base unit itself. You will be asked to pre-pay two years of the $12.95 monthly subscription fee (prorated refunds in case you decide to cancel subscription) for the lowest plan. Or, you can buy the Zonbu outright for $249.
And then, of course, there are the other costs like the broadband connection, and peripherals and I/O devices. Still, it’s a good start if you’re looking for cheap computing.