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HP Readies New Thin Clients

HP will ship by mid-June three new additions to its t5000 line of thin clients, finally answering customers’ questions as to what the company will do now that Transmeta is exiting the thin client processor business, and taking aim at low-priced competitors.

The new clients, dubbed the HP Compaq t5125, t5520 and t5525, all support Citrix’s ICA client, as well as Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) client. In addition, they support smart card readers for enhanced security.

But, importantly, the release of two of the new clients -- the t5520 and t5525 -- also demonstrates what HP will do without Transmeta’s chips. Both the t5520 and t5525 are built around 800-MHz Via processors.

“I think it will help HP because everyone was worrying [what it would do] after the Transmeta announcement,” says Bob O’Donnell, vice president of clients and displays at research firm IDC.

But in terms of importance, O’Donnell also points to the t5125’s price tag of $239 -- a new low for HP. “That got them into the ‘low-cost’ category,” O’Donnell says, adding that makes it competitive with offerings from competitors like Neoware. The “low-cost” t5125 features 32 MB of flash memory for drivers and applications, plus 128 MB of system memory.

In what O’Donnell refers to as the “mainstream market,” the t5520 features Microsoft’s Windows CE 5.0 with Internet Explorer 6.0 for CE, Media Player 9.0 for CE, and terminal emulations. “We’re seeing a lot of customers getting more and more interested in [Windows] Terminal Services and Citrix on top of it,” says Greg Schmidt, HP senior manager for thin clients.

At $289, the t5520 comes with 64 MB of flash memory, and 128 MB of system memory. It includes four USB ports, as well as serial, PS/2 and parallel ports.

Meanwhile, HP is not ignoring thin client solutions for the Linux marketplace either. At $319, the t5525 supports Linux, and includes the Firefox browser with Sun Java, Adobe Acrobat Reader and X Terminal with XDM. It also has more memory than the other two models -- 256 MB of flash memory and 128 MB of system memory. Like the t5520, it provides four USB ports, as well as parallel, serial and PS/2 ports.

While some observers view the thin-client market as moribund, in fact, the market is growing, and that may be advantageous for HP. IDC is predicting that the industry niche will sell just over 1.9 million thin clients this year, bringing in a total of about $619 million in revenues.

Although HP only began offering its t5000 product line in 2003, it has already achieved third place in the marketplace, behind leader Wyse Technology and its Winterm line of thin clients, as well as second place runner Neoware with its Eon and Capio lines, according to IDC.

HP experienced 70 percent growth in sales of thin clients in 2004 over 2003 and is currently running neck-and-neck with Neoware, according to Schmidt. “We see a tremendous opportunity in the thin client market,” Schmidt adds.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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