Zonbu…..The Ultimate Green Machine?

This coming new year, Zonbu, a company out of Menlo Park, Calif., will be offering a new 15.4″ widescreen laptop with a unique data storage and warranty service. The Zonbu runs on a proprietary operating system and is manufactured by Everex. You get a 1.5GHz C7-M VIA processor, you also get a less than spectacular 512MB of RAM, however the beauty of Zonbu is less about the hardware, and more about the service they offer.

Basically, the notebook comes loaded with 20 software apps, such as the aforementioned OS, firewall, and virus protection, all of which the company will upgrade automatically and for free.

Zonbu also provides its users with automatic data backup on an online storage site, and remote access to those files via the Zonbu computer or any other computer. If the Zonbu hardware should break, the service gets you a free replacement of that laptop. In fact, the company claims it will send out your new laptop the day you report your system failure. And all of your files will be backed up, remember, so no worries there either.

The cost for such a product-$479 down and $14.95 per month afterward with no commitment. If you commit to their service for one year, the down payment goes down to $379. Commit to two years, and you save another hundred-with a down payment of $279. Break the commitment, and you could be looking at up to $200 in charges.

(In comparison, the Zonbu Desktop Mini-where the company got its start-comes at a down payment of $99 with a two-year commitment.)

That’s all well and good, but Zonbu claim to fame is its greenness. The 5.3lbs (2.4kg) laptop produced by Everex is designed to earn the Green Electronics Council’s EPEAT silver rating. It is also Energy Star 4, and meets RoHS standards. For an idea of what this means, let’s again compare with the Desktop Mini. It uses just one-tenth the energy of a regular desktop, thanks in part to it not containing a fan or hard drive. Also the laptop’s low power design reduces CO2 emissions, and is totally carbon neutral, and consumes far less energy than used by a typical light bulb.

And when (hopefully after years of sterling service) Zonbu gives you the green screen of death, the company offer a free take-back program to recycle your used laptop responsibly. E-waste is quickly becoming a global concern. Millions of tons of electronic waste is dumped in landfills and incinerators every year. Simply return your Zonbu laptop and they will settle the tab for safely recycling all the components. They’ll even recycle the original box it came in! And the 60GB hard drive that comes with the laptop? Everything is stored on flash memory and backed up on the company’s servers via the Internet.

The whole deal sounds zerific, right? But here’s something to ask Zonbu if you decide to give them a call: What privacy guarantees do they make that they won’t access your stored files on their server, or let someone else?

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By Henrik Stigell – Laptopical

Wednesday, December 05, 2007