Diagnostic lab opts for Intel-based NetPCs

With workbench space at a premium, Diagnostics Laboratory Auckland was looking for a particularly small footprint for its new PCs. IT manager Dave Aarons says testing equipment takes up most of the desktop space at Diagnostics' central laboratory, which led to the choice of Compucon Mini Desktop NLX PCs for the upgrade.

With workbench space at a premium, Diagnostics Laboratory Auckland was looking for a particularly small footprint for its new PCs.

IT manager Dave Aarons says testing equipment takes up most of the desktop space at Diagnostics' central laboratory, which led to the choice of Compucon Mini Desktop NLX PCs for the upgrade.

"They're tidy units that sit away nicely and yet they have everything we need. We run them as full multimedia PCs but they can function as NetPCs."

Assembled locally by Compucon in Albany, the Mini Desktop box is about the same size as a PC notebook and is designed for network or thin-client requirements. It uses the Intel EX440 motherboard chipset and has been designed to meet the specifications of the NetPC.

Aarons says initially the "mini PCs" will be used as traditional PCs but with wake-on-LAN and zero-admin features, they are capable of functioning as NetPCs.

Compucon national sales manager Kevin Langley says although the NetPC hasn't taken off it suits niche markets such as laboratories or areas that don't have a lot of desk space.

Aarons says Diagnostics has 50 mini PCs in its central lab and another 50 at depots around the region. He says one of the main reasons Diagnostics buys from Compucon is that it is registered as an ISO 9000 organisation.

"In the next few years the nature of software will be Web-based and a lot of the tools will be browser-based. The whole network client-server-centric model is quite new and immature but we can see that that's the way to go and these NetPCs can be easily figured that way. They're about the same price as NCs [$2000 including monitor and built in speakers, mouse and keyboard], so they provide an interim step."

In the meantime, Aarons controls his remote PCs with a product called Remotely Possible by Avalan (which was recently acquired by Computer Associates and renamed Control IT).

"It's a bit like PCAnywhere but has a much smaller [memory] footprint, about 2Mb," he says. "It gives the ability to dial up our remote sites and totally control them."

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