Zonbu/Zonbox wants to be your $99 computer

26 05 2007

Zonbu has put together the Zonbox. A $99 desktop computer with a very small form factor. In addition to the price appeal the Zonbox sports a linux OS and “comes with every program most people ever need”. The other major point of comparison with the traditional desktop computer is the Zonbox does not include, or need, a hard drive. The system runs off 4GB flash based local storage. This translates into no moving parts and what may be a pretty rugged box as a result. Finally the system also touts an efficient low power design which means safer for the environment and lighter on your wallet.

I really like what they are doing here. I especially appreciate the opportunity at another viable choice in the market. The low end PC, the over priced Apple and now the entry level Linux box, nice. In addition to the $99 cost of the hardware the system relies on a subscription service which gives you access to additional storage online in a few different plans ranging from 25GB to 100GB, or $12.99 – $19.95 per month for a 2 year plan. If you do the math the cost after the couple of years is about what you would pay for a middle of the road PC today.While the cost is nice I don’t see the cost as being the driver for buying such a box. A few drivers include support/replacement, software upgrades and no viruses (currently). The Zonbox also supports several peripherals.

Replacement information from the Zonbu site:

Free replacement Zonbox
In the unlikely event that your Zonbox fails within three years of purchase, let us know and we’ll send you a replacement Zonbox that very day (*). Just plug in your replacement Zonbox and immediately access your valuable data stored on the Zonbu service, with all of your preferences and settings intact. Once you’re back up and running, send us your old Zonbox. What could be easier?

That is really all I’ve got. I threw this post together pretty quick and will likely follow it up later with more thoughts around expansion and limitations. Pretty exciting though. Oh, check their demo here.

What do you think?




2 responses

27 05 2007

I’d probably go buy a $99 Linux desktop tomorrow. However, I wouldn’t want to get locked in to the monthly fee racket.

I’m someone who seems to use a product longer than the average user. (For example, I’m driving a four-year-old laptop right now.) Multiplying that monthly fee out that long makes it seem like a very expensive proposition. In addition, you’ve got the likely hassle of getting your data back from the company when you want to move on to another platform down the road.

I know that I pay a monthly fee for internet access, but it’s not like my computer is only compatible with one ISP. That gives me a lot of freedom. This seems like a good price with very little flexibility for the user.

Then again, $99…

27 05 2007

Patrick – Thanks for commenting.

From what I understand the Zonbox does not tie you into an ISP. The subscription is for additional online storage via Amazon S3. I learned this bit from Wired. It also looks like you can get the box itself for $250 without the stock limitations or need for a subscription service. If they are indeed using Amazon S3 this implies that you will be able to access your data from any place, or any workstation, so long as they are not putting some proprietary wrapper on the service.

I know a few people that call on me for support that could really benefit from this type of device, mostly because it protects them from themselves. 🙂

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