More "Green" PCs

Thursday, November 29, 2007

As I've been wandering the Net the past few weeks looking for interesting "Green" PCs to eventually replace my hulking desktop, I've found very interesting alternatives. Two of them can run XP decently, but all are optimized for Linux - hehehe. The price point is certainly arguable considering they don't have that much power to begin with. But since we are talking about saving energy and since these machines are mostly for "everyday" tasks, then that is how their purpose should be viewed. Some talk on most forums complain their lack of power or their limitations. I say these people should look elsewhere before they shoot off their mouth about how under-powered these systems are. They just don't get the point.

Anyway, here they are (all information here was gathered off the official sites and product reviews. I have had no actual hands-on experience with these devices and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the product specifications):

1. Zonbu PC
  • 1.2GHz VIA C7 ULV (ultra-low voltage) processor, 512 MB RAM, 4GB CF Card for storage, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, 20-watt power consumption;
  • Pros: Supports 2048 x 1536 display resolution (good enough for 19" LCDs!), comes with Gentoo installed (customized for the hardware) ;
  • Cons: Limited storage -- uses CF Card that are still quite expensive if you want to expand storage.
  • Price: $299 USD.
2. Koolu PC
  • 500MHz AMD Geode processor, 512MB RAM, 80GB 2.5" Hard Drive for storage, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, 10-watt power consumption;
  • Pros: Supports 1920 x 1440 display resolution, large hard drive for storage, comes with Ubuntu pre-installed;
  • Cons: Not the fastest processor, hard drive support is up to 80GB only (as far as I can tell);
  • Price: $299 Canadian.
3. Fit-PC
  • 500MHz AMD Geode processor, 256MB of DDR RAM (soldered on-board), 40GB 2.5” hard drive for storage, 100 Mbps Ethernet, 5-watt power consumption;
  • Pros: 5-watt power consumption, video up to 1920x1440 resolution, large enough hard drive for storage, comes with Gentoo (optimized for fit-PC) or Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty);
  • Cons: Not the fastest processor, RAM isn't expandable;
  • Price: $285 USD.
4. SolidLogic Little Valley 5677
  • Intel 1.33 GHz Celeron 215 (soldered on to D201GLY mainboard), 256MB DDR2 RAM, 40GB 2.5" hard drive for storage, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, 22-watt power consumption;
  • Pros: Memory and hard drive can be upgraded with standard PC parts;
  • Cons: Has the highest power requirements among the four, no OS (you can order Windows XP from them at standard OEM prices);
  • Price: starts at $202 USD .

Among the four, the SolidLogic Little Valley 5677 is the most flexible in terms of what hardware you can chuck in. That is, within the limitations of the system's Mini-ITX case. But it is expandable. It's also compatible with DDR2, the current standard in memory, so you don't have to worry about that particular part phasing out in the near future. All of the above though will require the use of an external optical drive and an (optional) external hard drive for additional storage to expand their capabilities. I find the optical drive a must-have for my personal use.

In closing, all these devices would fit what I call "everyday" computing -- basic internet, email, spreadsheet, word-processing and movie watching. Paired with an LCD, these devices will save you a substantial amount in energy costs in the long-run. Add Linux to the mix and you get a completely customizable set-up that you could tune to your needs. Best of all, you have a clean "green" conscience knowing that in your own little way, you've done the planet a favor.


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