Neoware offers a range of thin client appliances that can be used to run applications hosted on remote Windows servers. Some of these are Linux-based while others are built around Windows CE or XP Embedded (XPE).
Regardless of software, all offer management advantages compared to traditional desktop PCs, with no local storage or applications to worry about. They’re also more secure, with worms and other nasties locked out by the use of a read-only operating system image. They’re cheap too, although price depends on specification and, at the top of the range, the cost advantages are less obvious.
The cheapest Neoware appliance, the Linux-based Capio One, starts at £129 plus VAT and is about the size of a hardback book. It can be used with a standard CRT or analogue flat panel, with the usual connectors for keyboard and mouse. A 10/100Mbps Ethernet interface provides the necessary LAN connectivity, with serial, parallel and USB ports for printers and other local peripherals. An external AC adapter completes the package and, with no moving parts, it’s silent in operation.
Compared to a conventional PC the specification is far from impressive, with an SiS 550 processor plus just 16MB of flash memory and up to 64MB of RAM. However, that’s sufficient for most server-based applications because, as with all thin clients, the hardware only processes the local GUI (graphical user interface).
Moreover, you get both an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) client for use with Windows terminal servers and a Citrix ICA client. An optional terminal emulator can also be specified for use with legacy mainframe and mini systems.
The Capio One won’t break any performance records, but it’s fast enough for task-based workers running typically just one application all day. Moreover, for those needing to do more, other Capio models have faster processors and more memory. For greater local processing abilities there’s the more powerful Eon range, topped off by the Eon e300.
The Eon e300 stands out in that it’s built into a flat panel display with, again, power from an external AC adapter. Also, just as with the Capio, there’s no internal hard disk, fan or other moving parts, making the Eon e300 silent in use. A 10/100Mbits/sec Ethernet port connects it to the Lan, with wireless connectivity another option.
As with other Neoware clients, the Eon e300 can be had with Linux, Windows CE or, as on the unit we looked at, Windows XP Embedded, depending on your budget. The XPE version is the most expensive, featuring a cut-down implementation of the XP software, loaded from flash with most of the accessories and features removed. Internet Explorer 6 is, however, retained and you also get RDP and ICA clients plus legacy terminal emulation in the form of the Neoware TeemTalk application.
The Eon e300 boots like an ordinary Windows XP PC and can be configured for workgroup or domain networking. It can also be customised to connect to specific hosts and the Windows setup modified to run local applications just as on an ordinary PC.
Unfortunately, the 32-bit Via Eden x86 processor still struggles when running local applications and you’re limited to just 256MB of RAM. Screen resolution is limited too, and although you can run the browser and other applications locally, the end results are sluggish.
In its favour the Eon e300 is a very stylish device, with no large processing unit to spoil the good looks. However, it’s no cheaper than a high-end desktop PC and lacks local processing and storage options. That just leaves management and security to justify the price. The Capio products seem to offer better value – if, perhaps, losing out in the beauty stakes.
Contact: 01344 382 164