Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Zonbu Thin Client Linux Computer for Consumers

Zonbu miniature PCZonbu , are offering a thin client Linux computer for $US249.00. They include a data storage service and the application software in the price. If you pay for more online storage on a long term plan the cost of the hardware is lower.

The hardware is a small PC (apparently made by MSTI and sold as the "eBox mini Green PC"):
  • 1.2 GHz Via Eden CPU (C7 Esther core)
  • VIA CX700M chipset
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Ethernet 10/100 Mbit/s
  • PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, VGA display port and 6 USB 2.0 ports
  • 4 GB CompactFlash local storage
  • Graphics up to 2048 x 1536 with 16 million colors – hardware graphics and MPEG2 acceleration
From: Zonbu, Wikipedia, 2007
In effect, the computer is sold in a similar way to a mobile phone plan: the more you pay for the monthly service and the longer you commit to the cheaper the hardware is. The service comes with OpenOffice.com and other typical Linux desktop software. Of course, the catch is that you need a broadband Internet connection for the unit to be usable. Even so this might be a good option for some home users and micro businesses. The business could simply plug the computer in and use it: if it breaks, then get another one, with the data stored on the remote on the server

ps: A similar online support option for the ASUS Eee PC (RM Minibook) sub-notebook diskless Linux computer could also be attractive. A school or micro business could equip students or staff with a computer which they could carry around, but not store too much vital data in.

2 comments:

rayak said...

This looks very promising for us "Sundowners", -otherwise crudely called "The Grey Nomads".
I hope that they make it compatable with an RF output (to connect to my LCV Caravan TV, and be powered by 12Volt DC. - Along with TELSTRA Next G(If it works as they promise). That should suit QUITE a few people. I would like to be assured that security while accessing an I'Net Banking site was OK though.

Tom Worthington said...

rayak wrote November 16, 2007 11:51 AM:

This looks very promising for us "Sundowners" ...

The Zonbu certainly looks robust enough to survive being used in a caravan. I am not sure about RF output for a Caravan TV, you might be better off with an LCD TV which has VGA input as well.

You will need a 12 to 5 Volt adapter to run it from a car battery and will need someone to solder the unusual three pin DIN plug on the adaptor.

My limited experience of Telstra Next G is that it works fine. Just be careful of the data charges and that you get a data interface which does not need special software on the computer. I have found plugging wireless into a router and the router into the computer eliminates a lot of problems. The NetComm N3G001W 3G Wireless Router works with NextG, but is not cheap.

Security for Internet banking should be better with the Zonbu than with a Windows computer. But if your bank has any Windows/Internet Explorer specific software it may not work. I tried it with St George Bank and it worked fine.

ps: Another option would be the ASUS Eee PC diskless Linux subnotebook computer. This has a similar processor and software to the Zonbu, but includes a screen, keyboard and battery. But the last time I checked, these were not available in Australia.