HP: Trying to be thin again

Hewlett-Packard on Monday will launch three new thin-client machines under the Entria brand name.

The Entria G (220) will replace the current low-end Windows client machine. The Entria L will run a Netscape browser and execute enterprise Java applets. The Entria X adds X-Windows applications abilities to the fold.

The Entria G, priced at $599 (£371) and available next month, is an appliance computer OEM'ed from Wyse Technology that runs a 200MHz Cyrix MediaGX processor and Windows CE for Terminals v2.11. The box is aimed at corporations running Windows NT, Terminal Server Edition, Citrix Metaframe software, or the upcoming Windows 2000. The G series includes a full suite of terminal emulation software for working with legacy, Unix, or Windows NT systems.

Aimed at the users accessing both Windows NT and Web-based applications, the Entria L uses a 266MHz Pentium II MMX processor. The embedded software includes the Linux operating system and Netscape Navigator browser with Adobe Acrobat and Real Audio player, and Java-Virtual-Machine-compatible client.

Launched at the high-end user requiring fast visualisation, the Entria X uses a 333MHz Pentium II MMX with a graphics subsystem capable of 1600 x 1200 pixels x 16-bit colours. The client uses ChaiVM, HP's embedded virtual machine with its E-Speak e-commerce extensions, and is X-Windows-capable. Both the Entria L and X were designed at HP's facility in Greenbelt, France. Prices were not available for either machine. Both will be available later this year.

HP sees resellers as an important part of its program, according to HP's General Manager Wolfgang Ballets. The products will be available direct and through current HP resellers. Additionally, Ballets states HP will be recruiting additional resellers for the Entria line and will launch additional reseller programs later this year.

Peter Lowber, Research Director at Gartner Group, says he is impressed by L and X models. But Lowber is reserved about HP's efforts and wondered if the PC division, which recorded record sales this quarter, would allow the thin client group to lead. As to the market, Lowber says, "Some customer are asking for this type of solution, but they remain a minority. HP's move is very good for the market as a whole and endorses an alternative to the PC model. The technology can work and has great benefits in specific areas but it becomes a cultural and political issue in corporations who have put millions in their PC infrastructure, just like the mainframe before."

Lowber says thin-clients are a very good opportunity for VARs to expand their portfolio as the clients are packaged with solutions that include servers, a stronghold for resellers. Although more than 75 percent of the current machines running on Citrix today are PCs, Lowber says that once the software is deployed, companies many find that the thin-client is just fine and they don't need all of their PCs anymore.

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