I came across Zonbu on a couple of tech blogs today and was curious about the many claims…inexpensive, green, silent, data service. After wandering the website it actually looks promising for folks who have minimal computing needs. It runs on a Linux variant and is preinstalled with your standard software: Firefox, OpenOffice, IM, Skype, but it is locked down. No installing your own software, not that there is much room to do so since it has no hard drive so your OS and apps live on 4GB of flash memory and your files live on the Zonbu servers. They offer multiple plans for storage which are pretty reasonable and I wouldn’t be too surprised if folks didn’t buy it more for the accessibility of data (you can log in to your Zonbu account from any computer).
With a 2 year account the little machine is $99, but you can buy it out right for $250 which is where things get interesting. There are plenty of USB ports for external drives and if you aren’t connecting to the Zonbu servers there shouldn’t be a problem with formatting the drive and putting your OS of choice on the system (as long as it is less than 4GB, or if the box can boot to USB). There is no hard drive or DVD/CD and it runs a low power processor so there is no need for a fan (very important if you are recording a podcast). So all in all it seems to live up to its hype and looks imminently hackable.