The Zonbu as a “portable” PC?

[EDIT: I just noticed that the Zonbu packaging box is almost the exact dimensions of the bag I mention this piece.]Messenger Bag

A long time ago, back when 100MB and then 250MB of removable storage was a lot, I had various Zip drives.

The Zip drives are long gone, but one of the external ones did come with a very nice portable carrying bag. (That’s not it, but I know how much you all love the heading artwork.)

The bag is about the dimensions of a magazine and a bit thicker than the Zonbu. On the inside, it has an adjustable/moveable velcro divider so you can snug up against whatever device you put inside, and use the remaining space for power supplies, the stand and any little accessories you have like a USB memory key.

It turns out that the bag is perfect for the Zonbu, and something that I think should be offered in the online store…

Take Zonbu to work day

Last week I brought the Zonbu to the office for the purpose of showing it around to other members of the team, both technical and non-technical. I was curious what feedback it would elicit.

There was a lot of interest and a lot of questions, which lead to an imprompu demo using the monitor/keyboard/mouse of one of their regular desktop machines. Some things worked as expected and others gave me a surprise…

I did a demo this morning of the streaming on and it didn’t work, but has in the past. I’ll check it out later and report back.

Public Terminals

I may even acquire a few more units so we can expand the testing.

I’m thinking of putting some in the lobby, to replace our public Internet terminals which are just XP desktops with some permissions locked down.

I want to put them out, with no instructions, and see how people fare.

At the moment, we have to format-and-reinstall the Windows machines every few months to keep them clean and operational.

Get back to work!

Today, I discovered that I was again thinking about bringing the Zonbu to work again, and I threw it in the bag and brought it along. I used my laptop on the desk and used my montior/key/mouse with the Zonbu. Oh how I love the silence. Not that I need both machines, of course, I’ve just grown kind of attached to it. Warts and all.

It’s so light and easy to move around, as well as unobtrusive on the desk, that it really is a new class of “portable” PC.

Which got me thinking, are there any interesting business model or unusual applications for a box like this?

Are people going to start toting Zonbu units around to volunteer or other events?

What about mobile applications where shock, vibration and harshness are issues?

Someone is going to get creative, I just know it.

-Mr. Zonbu


9 Responses to The Zonbu as a “portable” PC?

  1. Gary says:

    I wonder how pulling your notebook’s hd and putting it in the zonbu would fare? Isn’t there suppose to be room in the zonbu for that?

  2. Gregg says:

    I’m guessing that installing a notebook hd would add only about another 4 or 5 watts to the average power consumption.There’s definitely an ide connector on the Zonbu motherboard, but I’m not sure there is room for it to fit in the case. I think it probably would fit though.

  3. wjl says:

    Get a helmet camera, a Zonbu, a reasonable large USB stick as interim storage, put it into your tankbag, attach it to the battery, and then ride your motorcycle.

    Or do almost the same with a backpack instead of a tankbag, and on skiing or sky-diving or whatever.

    No need to take a >$500 camcorder with you, and no moving parts.

  4. mrzonbu says:

    Now you’re talking WJL.

    I do miss my motorcycle… That is a darn interesting application.

    The same coud be said for weekend racers and auto-crossers or anyone who wants to record a “road trip”.

    Interesting idea… I see a YouTube viral marketing compaign, with a contest to do the most interesting video clip via the Zonbu… Oh wait… we don’t have video support yet for cameras, do we?

    Drat. Well maybe this adds another motivator beyond basic web chat.

    -Mr. Z

  5. wjl says:

    >Oh wait… we don’t have video support yet for cameras, do we?

    Hmmm – I dunno about the configuration of that included Gentoo, but it should be doable IMHO – maybe you can ask the guys over at Zonbu, or find out what’s installed yourself?

    I think with that size and weight, it would make a terrific “reporter” PC.

    Best regards,

  6. mrzonbu says:

    When I built the kernel to support the network card in my simulator I was disappointed to notice that video for linux (V4L) support was NOT enabled at that point in time.

    -Mr. Zonbu

  7. Dave says:

    Maybe not all that original, but after some initial playing with the device, I’ll quickly test out some other things (try different OS on it or so — in case you’re wondering, I opted for the ‘community version’) before I’ll set it up as my file/web server for internal usage. I have two LaCie 500GB hard drives that I’ll set up with this. They are ‘smart’ drives, so they power down when not used and all (great for the whole green idea), and the web server for my developing. Backups too, of course.

    Great news too, customs finally let go of my package, so in theory I could expect the delivery guy at my doorstep tomorrow (thursday).. Dream, wish, pray, anything. Let’s hope it arrives tomorrow finally! Well over one week later than I expected. Sigh.

  8. wjl says:

    Let’s see – transcode/tcmplex can AFAIK “record” a v4l stream from any compatible device like a headcam or sports cam or whatever.

    So if you guys wanna try that out, that would maybe the way to go.

    Good luck,
    and thanks for all your work so far,

    wjl aka Wolfgang

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