capsule review


At a Glance
  • Zonbu

    PCWorld Rating

If you want a no-fuss, green alternative to a standard PC, consider Zonbu's Linux-based Energy Star 4.0 and EPEAT Gold-rated mini-PC. A preproduction unit we tested was very efficient--but you don't add software to it or store most files locally.

You essentially rent the Zonbu, paying $99 down plus $13 per month for 25GB of online storage. Fifteen dollars per month gets you 50GB of storage, and $20 gets you 100GB. The only internal storage is a 4GB Compact Flash card. Plus, Zonbu is a closed system. The company, not you, is the administrator of your box. It preloads open-source photo, productivity, music, and other applications, and pushes out all software and OS updates automatically. That's low-maintenance, but also limiting.

While idling, the Zonbu consumed only 9.6 watts of power. It felt slow when starting up, but not while running its Linux-based applications. Zonbu's CEO, Gregoire Gentil, says that's because it uses an energy-optimized Linux kernel and applications designed for it.

Zonbu purchases carbon offsets so it can say that its PC is the first "zero-emissions computer." (Companies aim to compensate for or "offset" their greenhouse gas emissions by funding environmental projects that reduce them.)

Whether you believe in carbon offsets or not, you can feel good about the Zonbu's low power consumption. And when you're done with your unit, the company will recycle it responsibly.

Narasu Rebbapragada

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating


    • Low energy use
    • Easy-to-use


    • Closed Linux system
    • Rental costs add up
Shop Tech Products at Amazon