UK firm to unveil wall-socket PC

UK firm to unveil wall-socket PC

Summary: The Jack PC thin client fits into a wall socket and is so energy-efficient it can get its power over Ethernet

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TOPICS: Servers
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Newcastle-based Jade Integration will launch one of the smallest thin-client computers available in the UK to date, the Jack PC, next month.

Containing all the electronics needed to run as a low- to medium-power PC, the Jack PC, as its name suggests, will fit into a standard size wall socket. The entire PC sits on two layered circuitboards. It contains an AMD RISC processor to help reduce power consumption and heat output.

According to Jade Integration's managing director, Andy MacLellan, low power was one of the big breakthroughs achieved with the Jack PC. "A regular PC will use 80 Watts or more of power, and this only uses 5 Watts. That makes a big difference to the cost of running it, as well as other things."

The device was developed by Chip PC Technologies, a company that specialises in what it calls "post-PC technologies". According to MacLellan, Chip PC Technologies created the first Jack PC over a year ago and has been working on perfecting it since then. The University of Northumbria was one of the first organisations to take delivery of the device.

"This can be used as a standard PC on standard power," MacLellan told ZDNet UK, "or it can be used with power-over-Ethernet, and that really makes it efficient."

A basic Jack PC costs £209 without monitor or keyboard. At a low price and using low power, MacLellan believes the device is "one of the biggest developments in PCs that we have seen" and is one of the "ever-growing range of thin clients, which are rapidly replacing PCs as a more effective desktop computing solution for modern businesses".

The Jack PC runs Windows CE, is designed to connect to "any terminal server-based environment" and has Citrix ICA and Microsoft RDP clients built in.

It runs Internet Explorer 6.0 to connect to Web-driven applications, and runs an "up to 500MHz" AMD RISC processor, which the company says is equivalent to a 1.2GHz x86. It can come with up to 64MB of flash memory and 128MB RAM.

Jack PC pic
The power of a PC shrunk to a wall socket: the Jack PC

Analogue or digital monitors are supported, and the system can include support for dual-screen and 16:9 screens. It has four USB 2.0-compatible ports, 16-bit audio in/out and support for 24-bit (true colour), 1280x1024 graphics. The Jack PC will also support wireless connectivity.

While the device itself consumes less power than a standard PC, users who want to run a range of applications will need to connect it to a server. This will raise the total power consumption.

The Jack PC will be getting its official launch next month when it is being shown at the IT Works show which will run on the 14th and 15th of June in Newcastle.

Topic: Servers

About

Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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22 comments
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  • Interesting. Now, how do we boot Linux on it?
    anonymous
  • And why isn't it shipped with Linux/LTSP in the first place?
    anonymous
  • Its not shipped with Linux because they want to alienate alot of clientelle who run linux solutions, not microsoft problems.
    anonymous
  • It runs windows because windows is still the most ubiquitous OS out there. With thin clients however much less emphasis is put on the host OS.

    I think that we will see more evolution in OS design in thin clents that have a simpler, more focused set of requirements - hopefully some microkernal activity - as it seems a good match.

    As for linux there is no reason one cannot install VNC or some other open remote desktop terminal software on the boxesand use any OS that follows the standard. Thats the great thing about the thin client paradigm, the client is the middleware.
    anonymous
  • The wall-socket size is just a gimmick, and will make swapping out a pain. I can't see this adding any more value than a SunRay, which is cheaper, and as it can't take a Java Card, you won't get the session portability that the SunRay offers.
    anonymous
  • Uh oh, better call the Waahmbulance! Something new and interesting comes along and all you guys can do is cry about it. "Linux isn't on it because the Bill Gates says so. Waaah!" Buncha babies!
    anonymous
  • Far out. Where can I get them?
    anonymous
  • Sounds like and alternative to Wyse terminals as well, when will they have a US version?
    anonymous
  • I see four USB ports on there, so I suppose one could use an external USB CD drive/Hard drive addition to it. Maybe you could install like that? Are those USB 1.1, or USB 2.0?
    anonymous
  • Seee www.jackpc.co.uk for more stats, prices and UK purchasing info. In the US check out www.chippc.com.

    No Linux variants (yet) but doubtless this will happen later down the line. A Red-Hat o/s image is actually more expensive than the installed WinCE kernel-only license. Sorry! Please bear in mind these are predominantly designed to work with the embedded RDP / ICA client and in most cases you're NOT going to use them as a PC!

    The unit is part of the 'flex jack' system so swapping out is incredibly simple. The unit just clips into the socket and can be removed / swapped for a range of other devices (RJ45 socket, 4/6 port managed switch, wireless hotspot etc.) using a special security key.

    You could use the USB ports for external storage but we would advise disabling these as it's a potential security risk. The ports are USB 2.0 compatible but at the moment only run at 1.1 speed - the limitation comes from the current CPU speed which limits it to 1.1.
    Next month, the end of June 2006, Chip PC are releasing Xtreme PC-EX-NG series that are RoHS compliant with improved hardware specs, for which it will be USB 2.0 supported.

    Hope this answers some of your questions.

    Kind regards,

    Jade Integration Technical Support
    www.jadeintegration.com
    anonymous
  • I like the ThinLinX Hot-E much more. It attaches to the back of the display, runs on one-fifth the power (1 Watt) of the Jack-PC, has a CF slot (for a wireless card running the latest wireless solution, for instance), an SD slot ($50 for 2Gb these days), boots Debian Linux and has BlueTooth for wireless peripheral connectivity. The LTSP people are actively working with ThinLinx and the ThinLinX implementation of X is state-of-the-art. The ThinLinX Hot-E allows me to remotely logon to my X desktop and X client applications from anywhere in the world, running them so well that I can't even tell they are remote. Each ThinLinX Coraid storage unit has ten terabytes of storage so I don't think any of us will be running out of storage capacity when using applications hosted at ThinLinx any time soon.
    anonymous
  • Where does the processor heat go? Is it really that low powered?
    anonymous
  • You don't Linux sucks. Or have you had your head under a rock?
    anonymous
  • You don't linux sucks?
    Well, I do food is good.
    BAD GRAMMAR!
    anonymous
  • Can it boot through USB ?
    anonymous
  • Socket PC - Cool - ubiquitous computing with minimal power requirements and reduced exposure to the i-net. I'll take 2. - Zak
    anonymous
  • Windows huh? It has a reset button! *phew*
    anonymous
  • I've always found it incredible...

    I've always found it incredible how people that do nothing but use other peoples newly invented technology do nothing but complain about what "it doesn't have". This is a first generation device. If you don't like it don't use it and create something yourself that fits your needs. Just be prepared for the same criticisms when you "unveil" your product. I must say it will be poetic justice though.
    pjemiolo
  • Could anyone write anser for question mentioned few times . Is those devices (jack pc, extreme pc, etc. ) could boot from usb ?
    Rafal.W
  • Seems very like a gimmick to me. Small form-factor is nice. I've played with a few myself, but how often is a wall socket anywhere near where you want to be?

    No comment on WinCE really, but IE6. Come on, that's a joke!

    Incidentally, thanks to the new layout of the website, this is the first time I've seen this item :(
    Tezzer-5cae2