New HP Windows 7 OS thin client to hit market in August

Hewlett-Packard Co. will make available a new thin client model in August for the office worker juggling multiple productivity apps and who wants the experience of the Windows 7 operating system. But, one analyst said this new addition to the fleet isn’t enough to change the commodity status of thin clients.

The t5570e Thin Client adds the Windows Embedded Standard 7 OS as part of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s mainstream line (5500 series). Previously, the choice of operating system was available only in the flexible line (5700 series).

“I don’t see that changing the thin client market,” said Laura Hansen-Kohls, senior research analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Inc. “But, it comes down to, is it a viable option for enterprises who want to add it to their fleet? Yes. Is it going to make people who don’t use thin clients want to adopt them? No.”

What stands out for Hansen-Kohls is the green aspect of the t5570e Thin Client, which is EPEAT Gold registered, Energy Star qualified and the case parts are made of 30 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic.

And while enterprises interested in thin clients are primarily seeking an increased level of security, Hansen-Kohls doesn’t see much differentiation in the new model’s security features compared to other thin clients on the market.

The t5570e Thin Client boasts enhanced security features fit for financial institutions and government agencies with stringent compliance requirements. The model is outfitted with a write filter, secure USB compartment and optional Smart Cards. The models can also be managed centrally by the IT department through HP Device Manager.

Dmitry Sokolov, category business manager for HP Canada’s retail solutions and thin clients group, said customers were asking for the Windows 7 experience in the 5500-series machines, one of two of the company’s top selling thin client lines.

“This one brings Windows embedded 7 operating system to that range,” said Sokolov of the t5570e Thin Client.

Moreover, said Sokolov, the additional security features, such as the enhanced write filters, protect data not just at the file level, but provides an “enterprise-OS level protection.”

And, being a thin client, the machine lets IT departments protect files in a virtual infrastructure central repository.

Overall, Hansen-Kohls said the t5570e Thin Client does offer the three things necessary in a thin client: management: software for the IT department, delivery protocol for better user experience, and features that let them behave like a fat client such as graphics processing units for client-side rendering.

Yet, price-wise, in general, some thin clients are almost on par with regular desktop PCs, which doesn’t make a very good case for thin clients, said Hansen-Kohls. However, enterprises buying thin clients tend to like the longer hardware lifecycle and decreased e-waste, she added.

Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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