Viewsonic is moving to target the business display market with a new line-up that includes Android-based thin clients and intelligent displays based on Teradici PC-over-IP (PCoIP) chips to serve as endpoints for virtual desktops, in addition to large-screen professional monitors.
The firm, which has been making displays for more than 25 years, said it is re-focussing on its core display business and dropping devices such as smartphones and its ViewPad tablets. The commercial display market is seen as a key area, with Viewsonic shipments to business customers growing by 16 per cent this year, according to European marketing director Mark Lufkin.
"All our focus now is going to be round big-screen monitors, from 23in upwards, and smart displays," Lufkin said.
Part of this new approach are the SD-A245 (pictured) and SD-A225 smart displays, which are 24in and 22in all-in-one devices running Android that are designed to serve as thin clients to fit into a Citrix-based infrastructure.
The SD-A245 is based on an Nvidia Tegra 3 T33 quad-core processor and runs Android 4.2, while the SD-A225 has a TI OMAP4470 dual-core processor and Android 4.1. Both have 1GB memory and 8GB flash storage, and both have touch-screen HD displays with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels
Viewsonic is shipping the devices with a built-in client for Citrix's XenMobile management platform, through which a worker can enrol their device. Once connected, policies set by the IT department should automatically provision tools such as Citrix Receiver and ShareFile clients, as well as applying management policies to the device.
With Citrix Receiver, users can access a virtual desktop running on XenDesktop or enterprise applications and other resources managed via XenApp. Meanwhile, XenMobile allows administrators to apply policies to lock down the smart display, preventing users from installing apps from the Google Play store for example, a key consideration with all the security issues surrounding Android at the moment.
For consumers, Viewsonic also has the VSD241, which does not have the thin client features and so is basically an Android all-in-one PC.
Viewsonic also announced the SD-Z225 Zero Client monitor, a 22in display with an integrated Teradici Tera 2321 chip. This implements Teradici's PC-over-IP (PCoIP) protocol in hardware, enabling the display to serve as the endpoint for virtual desktops running on VMware View infrastructure.
The firm also unveiled a pair of more traditional thin client devices, the SC-T35 and SC-T45. The former is based on a TI ARM chip and runs Linux, while the latter is based on an Intel Atom chip with Windows Embedded Standard 7. Both ship with remote screen clients for Citrix, VMware and Microsoft platforms.
With these new products, Viewsonic is going up against existing thin client vendors that are well established in the enterprise space, such as Dell Wyse and HP.
On the face of it, it seems unlikely that large organisations would be tempted away from these trusted providers. However, Clive Longbottom, service director at analyst Quocirca said that Android held out the promise of easier and more frequent updates than hardware based on Windows Embedded.
"If you're a company and you're looking at possibly moving to Windows 8 at some point in the future, you won't want to invest in thin clients based on Windows 7 right now. With Android, you know it's an open platform and you can update the devices if necessary," he said.
However, the fact that the Android-based devices use ARM-based chips could be a disadvantage. Other thin client vendors use x86 chips because these are said to offer better performance under the growing local processing burden of browser-based enterprise apps and tasks such as videoconferencing.
All of the new Viewsonic products are available for pre-order now, with full availability in mid-November, the firm said.
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