With security-sensitive markets such as finance, health care and education in mind, General Dynamics Itronix introduced four ultrathin-client computers June 28, adding to its Tadpole line of products.
While they look like typical PCs-and behave like them once connected to a server-the ultrathin clients don't include a hard drive, memory, operating systems or software applications. Consequently, security issues associated with lost or stolen devices are eliminated, virus protection becomes a nonissue, and service and support-performed at the server level-are drastically reduced. The new Tadpole M1000 is a 3-pound device with a 10-inch display, integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n, Ethernet and optional 3G mobile broadband connectivity. Built on the Sun Ray protocol from Oracle, it includes a VPN for end-to-end security and is compatible with Windows, Unix and Linux server environments. Two USB 2.0 ports are included, along with a VGA port, audio and mic jacks, and an Express card slot.
The larger Tadpole M1500 adds to the M1000's features a 15-inch LCD display that supports high-definition applications, including three-dimensional video and imaging, as well as an additional USB slot, an HDMI port and a smart card reader.
Smart cards, said David Miles, GDI's director of marketing, are like credit cards with a smart chip inside. "As soon as I take my smart card out [of the machine], the program stops running on the desktop but is still running on the server," he explained to eWEEK. "So if at home I put the smart card back in, it resumes exactly where I left off. And I can work like that anywhere in the world-which isn't the case with all thin-client solutions."
Rounding out the new Tadpole products are two desktop units, the Tadpole Pulsar and the Pulsar Premium. The former can support dual displays, is compatible with standard DVI (Digital Video Interactive) monitors, and includes 32-bit graphics support, an Intel Atom 330 CPU, four USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n connectivity. It measures 8.5 by 6.5 by 1.77 inches and weighs 3.6 pounds.
The Pulsar Premium, a wireless desktop for general-purpose computing, measures 9.9 by 6.6 by 0.87 inches and weighs 1.54 pounds.
In addition to security benefits and cost savings through reduced IT support needs-one manufacturing customer, Miles said, was able to reduce its IT staff from three people to just one person who can now oversee multiple locations-thin clients significantly reduce an enterprise's energy use.
"We're seeing a big need for green [features] and low power consumption," Miles said. "It's a big driver for large enterprises, when they realize they can see big savings on their energy bills." Compared with a typical desktop solution, a thin client can reduce energy needs by up to 80 percent.
Thin clients, Miles said, can also simplify training sessions and have been a hit in instances where an enterprise is managing large amounts of client data. One customer, Derby College, an institution with more than 20,000 students, "had a lot of security concerns around Internet data with young students," he said. "For them the concept of a world-class IT solution that was simple to manage and could securely deliver data and appropriate information was a very big deal."
Pricing for the Tadpole line begins at $435. More information is available at the GDI site.