French ISP give free Linux box with Broadband line

In a move reminescent of some startups in the 1990's, French ISP Neuf Cegetel has launched Easy Neuf (Easy Nine) and the Easygate a few days ago and touts it as a cheap(ish) way of accessing the internet without the pains/investment of owning the computer.

For an initial investment of £94 (the bare box is free but you have to pay for the accessories) and £27 monthly thereafter, French users can grab a media box, a 14-inch LCD, a keyboard, a mouse and a webcam. On top of that, Neuf provides with landline, 8Mb broadband, unlimited landline calls, antivirus software, Linux OS and office applications.

To sweeten the deal, the ISP also throw in onsite warranty, free hotline and a two hour online tutoirial to get people trained.

The media box looks like a bread maker, but is nonetheless more attractive than beige PC boxes. Inside, you will find an Intel CPU (PC Inpact mentions a M600 processor with a 852GM chipset). There's no hard drive but 512MB RAM and 512MB flash memory - if that's not enough, Neuf also sells 9GB onlie storrage for around £30 annually.

Other features of the Easygate include six USB ports, VGA ports and a Linux OS with Firefox, Abiword, Gnumeric, GIMP and a few more bits. Neuf Cegetel also plans to release the blueprint of the Easygate to the Open Source Community in November 2006 through a dedicated website .

Is it worth it? Probably if you live in France and certainly that would be an excellent deal if it manages to UK.