Computing in the car pool lane?

Car pool laneAre we headed towards a two tiered computing model?

If most of our needs can be met with a small power footprint box like the Zonbu, does it make sense to run that as our principal desktop and keep a full blown PC in reserve?

Think of it as commuting in the Honda Civic and taking our V8 muscle car out on the weekends or for special occasions.

I think this may be the model that we are headed towards, and I think it makes a lot of economic and environmental sense…

The right tool for the job?

There are things the Zonbu does really well and things it does not.

If your day involves mostly web based interactions, e-mail, light office work, instant messaging and Skype then it’s an ideal tool for the job.

If your day involves heavy office work, multi-media applications or CAD, industry specific software or managing huge amounts of data – then the Zonbu isn’t going to do much for you. But the reverse may be true at home.

Take stock of what you really use your PC for. Keep a pad of paper by the PC and make notes about the major things you use your box for in the run of a week.

Do you really need that V8 to get your work done or do you only put the pedal down and open it up every now and then?

Like CFL lightbulbs, small changes by everyone can have a huge positive impact on the broader environmental issues.

Free is good

The Zonbu allows you to have a light weight, energy efficient option at a low cost. It actually makes sense to have it as a second/alternate PC, instead of thinking of it as a full blown PC replacement. And I don’t mean in the kitchen or the garage, I mean at your computer desk.

With the new free plan that provides all of the software updates and 2GB of online storage when you buy the device outright for $249, there is very little risk involved in having the Zonbu as a second PC. And if you’re ultra-cost conscious, you can always use your USB memory key or hard drive for local storage and forgo any additional fees down the road.

Heck, I walked past a 320GB USB hard drive for $99 in Best Buy earlier today. Amazing.

The commuter PC

I think the real breakthrough for the Zonbu, and perhaps how it should be positioned, is not as a desktop replacement but as the right tool for certain tasks.

Instead of the “one size fits all” model that the industry has been largely pursuing with PCs (do most people really need dual core CPUs and 320GB hard disks?), the Zonbu introduces the idea of a lightweight device for lightweight tasks. Dare we say it’s the Miata or Mini of computers?

The Zonbu could allow you to leave your loud, energy hungry PC off most of the day and still get your tasks done without sacrificing the video editing, high end gaming or general flexibility of a traditional desktop. Don’t ditch your main PC, just keep it under the covers in the garage until you really need it.


It’s never easy to blaze a new trail and to introduce a new idea to an established market.

While the Zonbu offers a lot of potential in terms of creating a two-tiered computing/power consumption model, it may prove to be too large an obstacle to over come.

How do you feel about having the Zonbu as a secondary machine?

Are you using it as your only PC or do you still fall back on a full blown desktop during the week?

Sound off in the comments.

-Mr. Zonbu


One Response to Computing in the car pool lane?

  1. Dave says:

    Even though back in the ‘Netherlands I had the Zonbu running alongside my macbook pro, I never thought of this scenario. I think it’s a really good idea, considering generally speaking, throughout the week one would only use the computer for some internet browsing, maybe as your music player and the like, everything the Zonbu can do, too. While this leaves one thing left to wonder about (sync or file sharing between your desktop and Zonbu, is web access to your Zonbu files convenient enough? Or should you swap your (external) data hard drive between the Zonbu and desktop whenever you switch? KVM switches come to mind..

    All in all, this brings more light to the consumer market for the Zonbu, I’d say. Especially with the new ‘free’ edition.

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