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

Sun Microsystems Sun Ray 170

Sun has done an excellent job with its next generation of thin-client terminals. In the January 2004 edition of Technology & Business its Sun Ray 150 won the Editor's Choice award. The 150s are just reaching their end of life now and the 170s seem to be a worthy replacement.

The terminal itself is combined with a good-quality integrated 17in LCD panel, the very aesthetically pleasing design is reminiscent of Apple's recent hardware offerings. Of particular note is the ergonomics of the design, the panel can be easily raised up and down and tilted well past horizontal (upside down too, if you can stand on your head), while still remaining very sturdy. A use which immediately springs to mind is as a candidate for some point-of-sale (POS) clients or as a public access console or conference/seminar/hotel self service reservation/ticketing system.

Last year, we were particularly impressed by the 150's integrated smart card system used for authentication, as well as switching desktop environments from one terminal to another by simply removing the card from one console and plugging it into the other. We are happy to report Sun has kept this feature with the Sun Ray 170, however the card slot has moved from the right-hand side of the LCD panel to the centre of the front bezel.

An amazing array of ports are provided especially considering this is just a thin-client terminal. The right-hand side of the base has two audio jacks (headphones and microphone), two USB ports, 15-pin VGA input, and a 15-pin VGA output. The rear of the base has two 9-pin serial ports, two more USB ports, a Kensington-type security lock port, a RJ45 network port, and a power socket for the power adaptor. The right-hand side of the base has two audio jacks (speakers and line in). As with the Sun Ray 150, these terminals do need to be deployed with a Sun server, but once up and running clients are available for the popular server applications.

Overall Sun has totally redesigned an already impressive platform and we are happy to report that it appears to have even managed to improve on it. If you are thinking of investigating moving towards a thin-client architecture then it is worthwhile adding Sun to the list of vendors on review.

Product Sun Ray 170
Price AU$1,530
Vendor Sun Microsystems Australia
Phone 03 9869 6200
Excellent range of interoperability with many services.
Excellent port options, integrated 17in LCD panel is very good, smart card for sessions and authentication is also a bonus.
Good price considering features and the integrated 17in LCD Panel.
A 3-year warranty is very good.
Sun Microsystems Sun Ray 170

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Innovation

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