I have some (kickstarter) CHIPs on the way, but they will be a year away by all estimates. I love tinkering and these seem to be a great platform for a lot of IoT
As to the 9$, the kickstarter campaign is now over and they organised a refund for some country’s shipping cost by allowing the people to purchase extra items/chip to be included, Kickstarter was very restrictive on mixing-n-matching what people wanted. But yes shipping is steep and one has to wonder if some shipping is actually going towards cost of product. I was able to add a 2nd chip for 9$ with no extra shipping cost. It would seem that their final costs for the CHIP is around the 9$ with a little profit for them.
Looking at some other offerings 9$ seems feasible and possible. Will see what their shipping costs will be on the retail pre-orders.
The power requirements seem to be on the order of less than 3-5W average which makes them suitable for being powered from alternative sources such as a tiny solar array. If they are mostly idle then I expect them to draw a lot less power.
I was going to see also if they might be able to act as vaults using a USB stick. They are running linux afterall. A SSD seems to be overkill since you would need a USB->sata inferface anyhow and the USB3 memory sticks are fast enough. 32GB or 64GB should be more than enough for a medium vault.