Hewlett-Packard is launching a connected laptop that holds no data locally - using technology from thin client specialist Neoware, that it acquired only weeks ago.
"The HP Compaq 6720t mobile thin client is a laptop with no local data residing on it, so it is immune to data loss," said Andrew Gee, sales manager for HP remote client solutions, pointing out that this could be very useful for U.K. government departments and others suffering lost data when laptops go missing.
The HP device could mark the coming of age of laptop thin clients, said Gee. Although Neoware announced one in 2006, and Wyse launched one in 2007 they have only had a small niche because they have needed specialist hardware and relied on connections that have not been reliable.
"This looks very much like a normal HP laptop, and is part of HP's standard offering, with a PC card reader, USB sockets, and an expansion slot that can take 3G cards, as well as accessories such as extended batteries and port replicators," said Gee. The device won't work unless a network is present, but it has Wi-Fi and Ethernet, he said: "There is no trade-off from customer point of view. Network connectivity is becoming more prevalent and cheaper."
The laptop runs embedded XP, and has a 15.4in wide screen display, and a solid state disk, so it will run silently and have good battery life. It also has a spill resistant keyboard, said Gee. No price has been announced for the laptop yet, but it will be available in the second quarter of this year, said Gee.
HP also launched two desktop thin clients - the t5730 and the t5730, which run XP embedded and Linux, and cost £405 (US$810) and £315 respectively. Both have AMD chips with ATI graphics cards, and are configurable with features including two-screen support: "We're seeing a lot of requirements around multimedia," said Gee. The Windows version has integrated Wi-Fi, and can be mounted on the back of HP monitors to save desk space.
The products will not replace the existing HP and Neoware thin clients, said Gee - after all product longevity is one of the promised benefits of thin client computing. The announcement comes weeks after HP's purchase of Neoware was completed, and are a sign that HP is integrating its own thin client division well under the direction of Neoware, said Gee.
"We are now the largest vendor in the U.K. and Ireland, with one third of the market," he said. The combined shares of Neoware and HP add up to more than that of the former leader, Wyse, he said, and have been growing during the acquisition period: "Our combined share was 25 percent last year." The position is broadly the same in other countries, he added, with a 34 percent market share.