HP has launched two thin-client computers, pitching them as alternatives to desktop PCs for users in large organisations.
The entry-level Compaq t5135 Thin Client and business-class t5530 Thin Client are the size of a paperback book, small enough to be bolted to the back of a flat panel monitor and free up extra desk space. They fit into HP's line of thin client products below the higher end, more flexible t5720 and t5725.
The t5135 replaces HP's model 5125 and promises simple operation by running a Debian Linux OS and operating in a "stateless" mode that retains each user's settings only for the duration of each session. The t5530 replaces HP's model 5520 and offers more power by using the Windows CE OS to allow users to run a web browser, media player or terminal emulator.
Aside from the operating systems, both models share the same hardware, said Manoj Malhotra, HP's product marketing manager for thin client solutions. The common unit is a diskless, fanless computer with 64MB of flash storage, 128MB of RAM and a Via Technologies Eden processor, running at 400MHz for the 5135 or 800MHz for the 5530.
HP is making a bid to seize market share from Wyse Technology, the thin-client market's largest vendor, and to retain its lead over number three Neoware, said Allen Tiffany, HP's worldwide product manager for consolidated client infrastructure products. A fourth provider, ClearCube Technology, operates mainly in the blade server market, he said. HP already sells thin clients in the US, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
The release comes just days before other PC vendors planned to launch products on the other extreme - desktops and notebooks pumped up with enough power to host Microsoft's intense new Windows Vista OS. HP announced a Vista-capable desktop and notebook earlier in January, featuring touchscreen capability to take advantage of Vista's advanced graphics.
Malhotra said that HP's edge over its competitors was that the new thin clients could work in any of the common remote-computing models. They work with server-based computing, where multiple users share a server, to blade PCs, where each user accesses a single back-end computer, or virtual desktop infrastructure, which combines the two approaches.
Many IT managers favour these approaches over traditional desktop PCs because they have to maintain only a simple access device on each user's desk, while the storage and processing occur in a data center or back room. HP supplies a blade PC for that purpose, with an AMD Athlon 64 processor, Windows XP OS and a cool, 25-watt power draw. That unit stores end-users' data on a separate NAS or SAN.
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