Hewlett-Packard is announcing a refresh of its mid-range thin client portfolio, due to start shipping next week. The line of t5500s (t5550, t5565 and t5570) lowers the entry point to $249 and provides easier deployment. The company, which already dominates this market, according to IDC's "Q310 Enterprise Client Device Tracker," says that its new products provide significantly improved performance, a wireless option and the ability to support new capabilities such as Citrix HDX. The latter provides network and performance optimizations for a "high-definition" desktop virtualization user experience.
With support for the latest client virtualization technologies--including those from VMware, Microsoft and Citrix--HP Easy Tools is a wizard-based set of utilities that guides administrators through initial setup and configuration, and provides simple deployment options. From a green perspective, the new thin clients are EPEAT Gold-registered, Energy Star-qualified and brominated flame retardant/polyvinyl chloride (BFR/PVC)-free. In addition, the systems' cases contain more than 30 percent post-consumer recycled plastic. Because the t5500s are targeted at the midmarket, they must span a range of customer requirements, according to HP. Customers want either a Microsoft-based solution or a Linux-based solution on the desktop. HP offers two Windows flavors for those wanting maximum flexibility (embedded) or the lowest cost (Windows CE).
In addition to a range of operating system choices, the new thin clients feature the Superscalar VIA Nano u3500 CPU and VX900 integrated graphics processor. With the Windows CE 6.0 operating system, the t5550 supports legacy ports, Citrix ICA, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), terminal emulation, Windows Media Player, Microsoft Office viewers and basic Web browsing. Based on the ThinPro OS for access to Windows or Citrix environments, the t5565 includes dual monitor support, legacy ports, a secure USB compartment, Gigabit Ethernet support and a choice of client-side or server-based remote management solutions that simplify deployment and maintenance. Featuring the Windows Embedded Standard 2009 operating system, the t5570 offers native dual-digital monitor support, six USB 2.0 ports (two located in a secure USB compartment), a serial port, a parallel port and a power cord retention slot.
According to IDC, U.S. thin client sales will double during the next few years, to nearly 2 million units by 2013. IDC's Tom Mainelli, research manager, clients and displays, says HP continues to be the only major PC player with a strong focus in the thin client market. "By offering a comprehensive lineup of PCs and thin clients, HP can tell prospective IT buyers that they've got them covered regardless of what they decide to use," Mainelli says. That's also true from an operating system perspective, he adds: "Major vendors in this space must have that breadth of offering, as enterprise clients expect it. HP also offers thin clients without OS, a hardware category often referred to as zero clients. There is currently a great deal of interest in zero clients, as they offer more of what people like thin clients for. Or, maybe I should say, they're even thinner than thin clients. Some think zero clients make ideal endpoints for VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] deployments, and so we could see that segment of the the thin client market take off as VDI deployments increase."
HP may dominate the thin client market, claiming seven times the Windows share and three times the Linux share compared with its top competitors, but, Mainelli says, HP has plenty of competition. "Well-established companies such as Wyse Technology and NComputing have been quite successful in the thin client market for many years, and new companies are entering the market each year," he says. "Many of the new guys are focused on zero clients used for VDI."