New products from Wyse Technology close the gap between thin clients and PCs, according to the firm, delivering the same capabilities in a virtual desktop environment as workers expect from a real physical PC.
The additions include thin clients with enhanced graphics capabilities, a new version of the firm's Thin OS for entry-level thin clients, and updates to its TCX technologies that provide capabilities such as multimedia support for workers using a remote desktop connection.
Available immediately, the Wyse R50LE and R90LE rank among the most powerful thin clients available, based on AMD Sempron processors with up to 2Gb RAM.
These also have PC-style graphics processing units, enabling them to support dual displays at resolutions up to an impressive 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, and handle the Aero Glass visuals seen in Windows Vista and the forthcoming Windows 7.
The R50LE runs Novell's Suse Linux, while the R90LE is based on Windows XP Embedded. Options include 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi, PCI expansion for fibre network connectivity, and support for up to six external displays.
When combined with the new TCX software, the thin clients are fully capable of supporting media-intensive applications such as voice-over-IP (VoIP) and videoconferencing, according to Wyse.
"As customers adopt virtualisation, thin clients are becoming a more obvious choice," said Wyse chief marketing officer Jeff McNaught, adding that, unlike Terminal Services, virtual desktops (or client virtualisation, as Wyse calls it) can support all the applications that businesses need to use.
"Now that you can run everything on the server side, customers such as banks want thin clients that basically work like a TV giving you a remote view onto the desktop," he said.
TCX Rich Sound is an addition to the TCX suite supporting full bi-directional audio, enabling applications such as VoIP and speech recognition on virtual clients, according to McNaught.
"We are the first company to be able to deliver unified communications on a thin client," he said.
USB virtualisation has also been extended so that workers can use a wider range of peripherals with virtual clients by plugging them into the thin client terminal. This includes support for devices needing bandwidth for streaming, such as webcams.
Later this year, Wyse also plans an update for TCX designed to address issues around using remote desktop connections over long distances.
McNaught explained that, with client virtualisation beginning to take off, Wyse is moving from a thin client maker to a systems company.
"Last year was a period of tasting and smelling and feeling for companies looking at virtualisation. Now we're beginning to see real deployments," he said.
As an example, McNaught claimed that Wyse has already closed a deal with Barclays in the US that will see 150,000 seats deployed using client virtualisation.
Wyse is also adding TCX support into its own Thin OS, which typically powers entry-level thin clients. Wyse Thin OS 6.3 includes compatibility with Microsoft's RDP 6 and Terminal Services in Windows Server 2008, and is optimised for virtual client environments from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.
The Wyse R50LE and R90LE are available immediately at £410 and £480 respectively, along with R50L and R90L versions at £375 and £445 for customers that do not require the dual video or expansion capabilities. The TCX and Thin OS updates are due to ship by 16 December.
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