Green computing – here?


Saw this in yesterday’s Independent:

Even in the design-obsessed 21st century, when our iPod Nanos come in all the colours of the rainbow and flat-panel TVs are hung on walls and admired like works of art, wooden computer are still capable of turning heads. But this one aims to do more than make a fashion statement ??€� its goal is to save the planet.

This is the prototype of what its manufacturers, PC World, claim is the UK’s first truly carbon-neutral mass-market PC. Due to be launched in October, it uses between 13 and 17 per cent of the energy of a standard desktop computer. And if it sells well, it could spark a revolution, reversing our ever-growing appetite for power-hungry gadgets.

I mentioned this device back in February. I’m not convinced I want to buy a Vista-based PC from PC World, but it’s interesting such a large outlet sees an advantage in a low cost, low energy green PC. They’re doing simple stuff to make it more energy-efficient, making it smaller to use less materials, giving it an external power pack so they don’t need to run a cooling fan.

But what about this one? I first heard about the Zonbu on yesterday’s Grist. The Zonbu is probably the greenest computer yet. It’s only the size of a book, and it only costs $99. Hook it up to one of my bamboo monitors and keyboard and you’ve got the last word in low carbon computing. It’s already been given a very definite thumbs up from the American watchdog the Green Electronics Council.

How does that work? Well, this is the return of the “network computer” idea that other companies have tried to make work in the past. It only has a 4GB flash memory loaded with Linux open-source applications. Once you’ve bought the computer you have to pay a monthly fee for hard drive storeage space. So the downside is that it only works when you’re plugged in to the net.

And though the initial cost is low, you are faced with pretty hefty monthly data storage charges.

The upside is that Zonbu claim it only uses about a tenth of the energy used to run a normal PC – which is a giant saving. Network computing hasn’t taken off yet, but maybe now people are starting to worry about how much energy their PC uses, mabye the green computing agenda will make this work, finally. The website makes it look very pretty, anyway.

Let’s see what the uptake is.

OK, so I’ve used that cress growing out of old Compaq keyboard photo before. I like it though…