Six thin clients reviewed

Summary:In the first instalment of a two-part review on thin clients, we look at thin-client terminals.

Ipex WBT 370CE
MaxTerm 8300B
Sun Ray 170
VXL Itona
Wyse S30
Asterisk PC reviver
What to look out for
Sample scenario
Editor's choice
About RMIT

Ipex ThinOffice WBT 370CE

Physically the device is quite attractive (well as far as beige pieces of computer hardware go), and it certainly has a much smaller footprint than an average desktop chassis. For those concerned with physical security there is provision for a Kensington-type physical security cable lock. There is also more than enough ventilation on all sides of the chassis.

Supplied by Volante, this Ipex machine has more ports than one can poke a stick at: strangely the PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports are located on the front of the unit along with two USB ports and a smart card reader. We are assuming most deployments these days would use USB keyboards and mice. The rear of the machine has: RJ45 network port, PCMCIA slot, PCI slot, two more USB ports, 15-pin D-SUB VGA port, parallel port, 9-pin serial port, IEC power cable port, and a microphone and speaker jacks. The chassis physical dimensions are 210 x 230 x 50mm.

The client itself runs Windows CE, and less than a minute from plugging it in and switching it on, we were fully connected and running a Windows terminal session. We also ran up Citrix ICA sessions and an Internet Explorer browser connection. All working very neatly and running within minutes.

Surprisingly, the engineers at Volante decided to potentially throw a spanner in the works and run everything off the rails by offering to ship me a wireless PCMCIA card, which incidentally also needed a complete firmware upgrade.

Before the card arrived I downloaded the file from their server, unzipped it, uploaded it to one of my Linux servers and followed the three or four lines of instructions the engineer's e-mailed us to get the 20MB firmware update onto the box. Naturally expecting the worst I blithely powered ahead just waiting for the box to freeze midway, never to startup again. Despite my worst fears everything went as smoothly as possible and it was back up and running within minutes.

Ah ha! I thought, this is all well and good, just wait until the delivery arrives with the WLAN PCMICA card, then we will see it all fall in a heap. The card arrived, I powered down the thin client, inserted the card, and powered back up. Lo and behold, there was the option in the network to configure the preferences for WLAN. To be perfectly honest it took me longer to setup and configure my test access point than it did to fully re-configure the client and install the PCMCIA card. Everything worked so smoothly. Ok, so I do have quite a wealth of wired and wireless networking experience, but rarely do things go that easily. So it is a big thumbs up for the Volante engineers and the Ipex R&D team.

Overall a very neat unit, with many extra features. Extras such as wireless networking and smart card are excellent.

Product TK-3370CE / WBT-370CE
Price AU$671
Vendor Ipex / Volante
Phone 03 9242 5000
Excellent range of interoperability with many services.
Good expansion options (PCMCIA & PCI), average level of ports (ie, only 2 USB and 1 serial).
Good price for the features.
A 12-month warranty is below average for such a device.
Ipex ThinOffice WBT 370CE

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Innovation

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