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HP Upgrades Mobile Thin Clients

HP adds bigger displays and more processing power to its notebook-like mt40 mobile thin client, as well as the ability to image wirelessly.

HP is upgrading its mobile thin clients by adding more screen real estate and horsepower to the mt40 Mobile Thin Client line, while making them easier to manage remotely.

Aimed at telecommuters and on-campus mobile workers, the mt40 features a 14-inch HD display, an Intel Celeron B840 dual core processor and the choice of a either a lightweight or extended battery, HP says. The mt40 weighs slightly less than 5 pounds, has no moving parts and comes as a single package--keyboard, monitor and mouse--as it's meant to be moved around a lot, HP says.

Under the hood, the mt40 runs Windows Embedded 7 and supports remote virtual desktop environments from multiple vendors, including Citrix, Microsoft and VMware. It's also coffee-resistant: A drain case in the bottom steers spilled liquids away from the motherboard and other sensitive components.

HP also aims to simplify imaging with the release of its thin client management tool, HP Device Manager 4.5, which will come pre-installed on the HP mt40 and future thin clients. The software can be used by IT to remotely view, configure and manage HP thin clients. It supports wireless imaging as well as the ability to store new images locally on thin clients for future updates.

HP's New mt40 Mobile Thin Client

HP's New mt40 Mobile Thin Client

Bob O'Donnell, VP of clients and displays at IDC, says mobile thin clients are only a small fraction of the broader thin client market. HP and Dell, through its Wyse acquisition, are the primary vendors in the space, although there a few smaller players.

"The challenge with all thin clients is that they require a lot of upfront costs to set up the infrastructure you need to make them work," says O'Donnell. "There's a fair amount of technical sophistication and other software work to set up your applications to be delivered via a thin client."

That infrastructure includes networking and fast storage to support the access of applications remotely in a VDI model. This is not unique to HP, he says.

As noted by InformationWeek Reports' Informed CIO: VDI Snake Oil Check, the inability to work when disconnected from the network, as well as storage and initial setup costs, can all offset the benefits of deploying mobile thin clients and VDI.

If this hurdle can be overcome, mobile thin clients may have an advantage over traditional laptops and notebooks. Mobile thin clients give IT greater control over the device and are inherently more secure. "The whole point of thin clients is this ability to tightly manage and control them in the way that you can't control a PC," says O'Donnell.

How much an organization values management and security will determine whether shelling out the money for mobile thin clients is worth the investment, O'Donnell notes, as they tend to be pricier than a typical notebook, despite having fewer features. He says that tablets are sometimes a better choice. "In an ironic way, the best-selling client we've ever seen is the iPad," he says. Even so, tablets require the same support and infrastructure on the back end and aren't rugged enough for many use cases.

The mt40 Mobile Thin Client will be available in December. HP did not disclose pricing.

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