HP’s thin clients perfect for enthusiasts and hobbyists
One product that blew me away yesterday at the HP Touch The Future Now conference in Beijing was HP’s line of Thin Clients. Yes, Tech65 is a consumer-oriented website, and this article maintains that. Just read on to discover how thin clients can come back to us as consumers.
I was fortunate enough to have a personal demonstration of their Thin Clients by Billy Tan, Business Development Manager of Thin Clients at HP, and here’s what I learnt.
Even though they’re called thin-clients, they actually personal computers running on an embedded operating system. Instead of normal storage, the system uses RAM and ROM, ROM to store the operating system (an embedded version of Windows XP) as well as any custom software, and RAM to run the programs. They can run stand-alone without a server, and if you need to store data, you can hook up a USB thumb drive or hard drive. In fact, the machine they launched yesterday, the HP t5730w, has a hidden USB compartment on the top where you can securely hook up a USB thumb drive for the user to save their files.
The advantages for a business to use thin clients include:
- Low cost to buy (The above unit, according to Billy, costs US$375, including the monitor, keyboard and mouse)
- Lesser support required (After the software is locked, each time a user restarts the machine, it resets the entire system, thus the need to store data on external storage)
- Easy replacement (Since all the data is off the machine, HP provides one-to-one exchange for their thin clients within the 3 year warranty)
- Consumers only 15 watts
You can see how this system is really suitable for things such as cloud computing, point-of-sales, telephone support operators etc.
As of now, the thin clients are not available to consumers, but I brought this up to Dennis Mark, VP of Desktop Systems Unit at HP this morning, that there are a lot of enthusiasts and hobbyists who would love to be able to buy this as a “part”.
Take the example of a Car PC enthusiast. They would love this machine because it’s:
- Durable and shockproof (The machine is completely solid-state)
- Consumes so little power a car battery can support it
- Boots up super fast
- Since it’s solid state, no “shut down” required (Billy demonstrated how you can just pull out the power to turn it off without damaging it), just let it switch off together with the vehicle when you cut the engine.
- Once you put in your custom front end software and lock the machine, each time you reboot it restores itself, making sure that once it works, it will stay that way.
- Plus it’s super small.
- Music, movies, maps can be stored on a thumb drive and updated easily by bringing the drive home.
See what I mean? There are so many interesting applications for this thin-client for consumers, especially enthusiasts! Car PCs, home security, set top boxes, even robots! With this Thin Client, people can build their own electrical appliances easily!
Link: HP Thin Clients
P.S.: Once I’m back in Singapore, I will edit and upload the video where Billy demonstrates the HP thin clients to us. Stay tuned, or follow our twitter feed!