My Zonbu has landed

Zonbu3QViewMy Zonbu has finally arrived [or is that “Il est arrivé”? ;)].

I couldn’t’ resist that double entendre.

As I said in my previous post, it’s hard to beat the team at FedEx.

First impressions – wow. Its hard to convey how small and light the thing is until you turn it over in your hands. With its silver heat sink and black accents it looks very modern and attractive.

It has a very minimal shipping box that mirrors the colors of the unit (so the large sides and grey and the small sides are black) and the egg-crate inside is made of recyclable material. There is not much surplus packing material, which is nice and eco-friendly.

No one can accuse them of not drinking the green eco-koolaid.

First, a few comments for the Zonbu packagaing/shipping team…

Labeling needs to be improved (or It’s a Small World Afterall…)

While the box contains a nice illustrative rendering of the unit itself, it doesn’t contain the company name anywhere, nor an explanation – at all – of what is inside.

My golden rule of marketing is – when it comes to signage or packaging, you’ve got 30 seconds to tell me who you are and what you do. I would have been much happier to -at least- have a Zonbu logo, if not a tag line.

Zonbu: I hate to break it to you guys, but you don’t have the reputation and brand awareness of Apple yet. And even Apple puts a little grey apple logo on their white boxes (and any other surface they or their fans can find). This lack of identification on the Zonbu packaging actually caused me a problem.

I’m overseas at the moment and couldn’t wait for my Zonbu (ok, so maybe I’m a bit type-A). I had my office FedEx it to me. Local customs officers opened the box and decided it should have duty paid on it, despite the fact that PCs have no duty where I am.

I had to argue with FedEx, unbox the unit and explain what it was. Picture me standing in the FedEx office saying “See, a keyboard and mouse port, a monitor connector, USB? Look like a PC?” Once I convinced them they said they’d handle customs but all in all it shouldn’t have been necessary.

So Zonbu: as you’ve noticed in this blog, there are people in Italy, the Netherlands, Canada and various far flung places that will pony up for your product/service – don’t make it hard for them please.

But you already know this, you have their orders in your e-commerce system. Except for all the people who had friends/family buy and forward their units…

Meanwhile, back on the box

The “back” small edge of the box contains a “Specifications” checklist, showing that my unit has all the features I ordered.

Checked items include:

  • VGA
  • Audio
  • PS2/ K/B & Mouse Port
  • DDR 512M
  • 10/100M LAN X1
  • USB 2 Port X6
  • CF Slot (Type II)

Unchecked items include:

  • 256M of RAM
  • An additional 10/100 Ethernet
  • X2 USB ports (versus the X6 that I have)
  • ComPort X1 or X2
  • LPT (Print) Port
  • TV/S-Video Out
  • Two blank items that are not yet labeled

Some of those items are quite interesting. I don’t think they’ll ever need an old-school printer port, nor will they likely need a Com port. And, if you’re unfortunate enough to be stuck with dial-up then you’ve probably got a USB modem in 2007. Besides, if you have dial-up, forget about the Zonbu, its the wrong box for you.

Myth Perceptions

There is definitely interest in the TV/S-Video out options, both to enjoy media on your TV screen but also because people have other plans for the Zonbu box, like using it for a MythTV frontend. S-Video is the way to go there.

It probably won’t come as a surprise to my readers that I run MythTV as a digital video recorder at home as well, so I understand this particular interest.

I (and others on the web, I’ve noticed) also very interested in the Zonbu as a digital music server/Internet radio. I’d buy a second one and run Rhapsody on it, connected to a remote and my TV for example. Surprise.

Hints of the future?

Those two blank lines at the bottom are smart, expect to see “stickers” appear there when new features are announced.

Notably missing items that might make sense on future versions are DVI Digital Video output, 802.11x WiFi and Firewire.


Also inclued in the box are a (rather flimsy) stand to hold the unit in a vertical position, as well as the “wall wart” power adapter.

The input on the adapter is broad spectrum 100-240V, and 50/60HZ so our European, South American and Asian readers don’t need to worry about getting a different A/C adapter. A gender changer will be needed to adapt it to the local outlets if you’re not on the US style connector (or maybe Zonbu ships other adatpers? I doubt it since this one can handle all standards with gender changers).

The output of the adapter is DC 3-5V, 4A Max, 20W Max.

Hello, Big Boy

The wall adapter is surprisingly heavy and bulky.

I wish they had used a mid-line unit, laptop style. This would have allowed people in other countries to buy just the appropriate local lead from the brick to the wall, and also saved the end-user from trying to find enough free outlets on their power bar to fit the unwieldy unit. This stuff matters.

I’m going to have to give a Zonbu a “C” for the power adapter. This has been figured out before and there isn’t a good reason not to use a split cord.

Other than that, there is nothing but the packaging.


The unit looks good and fits properly in the stand. I’ll be posting photos tonight.

The packaging is eco-friendly, if poorly labeled and the wall adapter needs some work.

Overall I give it a B+ on the total package.

More to come this evening. Even Evil Broadband Geniuses need to eat.

-Mr. Zonbu


4 Responses to My Zonbu has landed

  1. Dave says:

    I watched the short unboxing video posted on the ‘international’ page of, and I too noticed the uhm..well… crappy-ness of the power supply. I ordered some travel adapter set right away, which I had to ‘hack’ right away.

    I guess it’s the downside of being one of the early adopters, huh. Which reminds me, what order number do you have? I wonder who number 1 is.. Maybe we can find that one on eBay already… 🙂

  2. Gregg says:

    Order# 131 here. Dave, what’s yours?

  3. mrzonbu says:

    The power supply is going to get a Mr. Zonbu ass-kicking in one of my write-ups tonight.

    It’s a first class mistake, poor choice of unit. I’ll elaborate later.

    -Mr. Zonbu

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