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focus: Thin Client.

Several years ago, I clearly remember hearing for the first time about thin client computing, and that Microsoft was planning to support this "new" computing environment. Like many engineers, I was skeptical at first, but having taken the time to learn about what thin client computing is and is not, I now think it is the only practical solution to many of the problems that educational institutions are facing worldwide. As a technical manager in a large, high tech company, I was invited by my department manager to participate in discussions on how to reduce the churn the department was experiencing from the continual treadmill of upgrading hardware one year and operating systems and applications the next year. There seemed to be constant pressure to upgrade hardware and software from internal sources. The yearly cost to replace even 1/3 of our computing hardware was staggering, and something had to be done.

Maxspeed's PGX 2000 is perfect for schools that have a central server. With the PGX, it is possible to run the same operations as a desktop, but without a bulky, noisy, expensive PC. Extremely reliable, neither the host server nor the product can crash, which makes it the perfect tool for old PC desktops. In addition, the ultra-thin client upgrades quite easily. The software for the entire system is entered on the main server, making it a single point of entry and thus eliminating the need to go around to each individual unit to add or upgrade programs. The PGX, operating at 132 Mbs, is available at a fraction of the cost of PC desktops, yet it is able to perform all of the same tasks.

The PGX is designed to support a cluster of high performance, low cost stations that share a single PC. It delivers color, realtime graphics and responsiveness equivalent to a standalone computer. It also handles streaming audio and video for multimedia applications, such as interactive educational training. The model includes two USB ports so that users can connect a variety of USB-based peripherals, including Zip drives, to customize their local station. Keyboard and mouse users may attach serial and parallel peripherals to each station. Devices that can be attached to the ports include touch screens, magnetic stripe readers and modems, as well as many different kinds of special purpose printers, key boards and mouse devices. Maxspeed Corporation, Palo Alto, CA, (800)877-7998, www.maxspeed.com.

The Sun Ray 150 appliance integrates Sun Ray functionality with 24-bit graphics on a 15" flat panel display with a backlight system of 60 Hz. This compact design takes up little room on the desktop, but can also be mounted to the wall for greater space sayings. The design has a bright and clear display, lower power consumption and simpler setup, when compared to the installation of a separate CPU and monitor. In addition, it is fully backward and forward compatible with the other members of the Sun Ray family.

The Sun Ray 150 has a 4 USB powered peripheral interface and the support of an RGB projector port (1024 x 768). Networking requires a dedicated connection between each Sun Ray appliance and the server running the Sun Ray server software. Input devices include a Type 6 USB keyboard, USB mouse and smart card reader. Available audio includes quality audio in/out, CD, microphone and headphone jacks. The unit comes equipped with an NTSC/PAL, RCA connector. The system power consumption is 60W AC maximum, 20W AC maximum in standby mode, with only keyboard and mouse USB peripherals attached. Sun Microsystems, Palo Alto, CA, (800) 821.4643, www.sun.com/edu.
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Title Annotation:Hardware Review; Sun Microsystems Sun Ray 150; Maxspeed PGX 2000
Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Article Type:Column
Date:Jun 1, 2001
Words:603
Previous Article:GIGABIT ETHERNET AT EDINBORO UNIVERSITY IN PENNSYLVANIA.
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