We've had our hands on these super-green Linux-and-Via powered babies for a little while, but now it's your turn. Even though the beta program is expected to run until September, Zonbu is confident that the hardware on 1.0 is locked. That's why today, the company started selling the little box, but will cover the first three months of software support, technically a beta run, for free.
If you recall, the little EPA-friendly silver box comes without a keyboard, mouse and monitor, but surely any self-respecting geek has plenty of those lying around. Zonbu's CEO, Gregoire Gentil (who also had a hand in the Gentoo Linux platform that Zonbu runs) says it's really a secondary PC, for kitchens, living rooms or wherever. You can have a look at Brian's full-throttle hands-on for details, but here are some things to keep in mind:
• It comes with many software titles pre-installed for music and video playback and Office-doc management. It's got an IM client and Skype, though it won't support video yet.
• The current version doesn't have integrated Wi-Fi, though you can use a dongle. Gentil says that his company is exploring a Wi-Fi option for the future.
• The pricing breakdown is a little funny. It's $99 if you commit to two years of service. $13 per month gets you 25GB of storage in the cloud, transparent to you from the desktop. (The internal memory is just a CF card, so up to 8GB.) You pay for service up front, so a two-year order with the 25GB storage would cost, up front, $370.95 (including the free three month deal). It's $199 if you only want one year of service, and if you don't want any service at all, it's $249.
• Service includes maintenance and tech support, plus new programs every six months. The downside for geeks is that in this arrangement Zonbu keeps admin access to itself. You'd need to go without service to have root-level control.
• As you can see from the photo above, there's very little you can't plug into this thing. It has six USB ports, and supports 800 cameras and 1500 printers without any extra drivers necessary. It also supports Mac-formatted, FAT32 and NTFS formatted drives, so like more drives than Windows or Apple (unless you know some trick).
• And for you greenies, remember, this baby uses just 10 watts while a standard PC uses 200 watts, and it has EPEAT Gold status for being made entirely out of earth-friendly materials. Put that in Al Gore's pipe and smoke it.