VXL Instruments is following up a £99 enterprise thin client launched in March with a souped-up version designed to appease power users, while claiming to maintain the low cost and simplicity of a diskless terminal.
VXL is a Bangalore-based hardware maker with clients such as Air France and Goodyear Tire & Rubber, but it maintains facilities in the UK and elsewhere. The Itona TC73, available immediately, is aimed at British enterprises, with pricing starting at £175 per desktop.
On the one hand, the product offers typical thin-client advantages: it's diskless and fanless, runs Linux, Windows CE or Windows XPe, has no moving parts and doesn't store data, meaning it isn't vulnerable to viruses and doesn't need to be backed up.
The Itona TC73 is the size of a hardback book, and consumes 11w of electricity compared to around a 100w for a typical PC with monitor — a factor that could be increasingly important for energy-conscious organisations. Recent research from the Fraunhofer Institute showed thin-client sales in Western Europe rose from 634,706 units in 2006 to 1,016,399 last year and, as a result, estimated CO2 savings rose from 30,789 tonnes in 2006 to 49,305 tonnes last year.
The system is more powerful than the average terminal, with 1GB of RAM, twin-monitor DVI graphics, gigabit LAN speeds and Wi-Fi options. The terminal is aimed at power users in organisations with a thin-client policy, according to VXL vice president of sales Frank Noon.
VXL also makes the entry-level, £99 TC23, introduced in March, and the mid-range TC43, updated earlier this year.
The company offers a thin client for mobile users in the form of a laptop that keeps in touch with servers via a 3G connection. In some respects this product is similar to Accenture's recently demonstrated "pocket supercomputer", a mobile phone with some thin-client characteristics.
IT directors may hesitate before committing themselves unreservedly to a thin-client policy, however; as the recent cable cut in the Mediterranean demonstrated, network failure is far from a hypothetical problem.