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Has Dell created the perfect thin client?

Rob Enderle | Feb. 3, 2014
Many have tried to create a marketable thin client, let alone a perfect one. So far, all have failed. But the Dell-Wyse Cloud Connect, announced this week, might be close.

In addition, bandwidth has expanded massively, bringing with it a focus on latency. Both had been a huge problem for thin client offerings, particularly for remote workers. In the past, higher-performing dedicated PCs needed hardware tying the remote PC to the desk, since network bandwidth and latency were inadequate. That has changed, even for many remote workers. We now have a pipe big enough and quick enough to get the job done. ( Rural areas, particularly those without hardwired services or that still require satellite connections, remain problematic.)

Finally, Google took Linux - more of a science experiment than a product on the desktop - and made it viable as a user-focused platform with Android. This lets Dell's Wyse unit create the ultimate thin client: An affordable device that fits in your pocket and connect to services that can replace a PC.

This provides the three legs to the stool: Flexible servers, network bandwidth and latency, and an affordable, portable thin client.

Thin Client Travels Well, Offers Effective Security
Cloud Connect is pretty amazing to look at, given that you only really see the client. The device itself looks like a large USB stick with an HDMI port, which can receive power through an MHL HDMI port. It runs Android and connects to a Citrix Systems client. This lets it run Android Apps locally and Windows apps remotely, both fully contained and secure through Citrix. It can serve as a primary client, connected to an HD TV or monitor with an HDMI port (preferably touch), or as an emergency backup in case a laptop is lost or stolen.

Cloud Connect is arguably more secure than a PC, too. It doesn't store corporate hosted data locally, and it's plug-and-play simple to set up, particularly for anyone who has ever had an Android phone or tablet. (I got mine running in about five minutes, with most of that time spent pairing the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

Such a device is ideal for organizations on tight budgets with a potential for shrinkage, such as libraries, schools and emerging markets. It can also be used for digital signage - providing a reliable low-cost interactive solution with a touchscreen (or streamed solution for a display monitor) at a fraction of the cost of the typical PC-based approach.

There's also the potential to connect to gaming or movie services to provide an inexpensive entertainment solution for executives and kids on the road - and it would be much easier than connecting your PC to the TV, since you can still use your PC to work and don't have to carry and string an HDMI cable. (That has never worked well for me..


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