General Dynamics Itronix Tadpole M1000 Ultra-Thin Client|
New netbook-size thin client a cost-efficient solution in secure, reliable client-server systems
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer, June 2010)
On June 28, 2010, the Tadpole product group of General Dynamics Itronix released the Tadpole M1000 Ultra-Thin Client, an industrial-quality, netbook-sized mobile platform for server-hosted applications running on Linux, UNIX or Windows hosts, and also offering complete Oracle Sun Ray compatibility.
While looking like a regular netbook computer, the Tadpole M1000 is an entirely different animal. Configured as a "thin client," the M1000 does not have local storage or computing capabilities. Instead, it is acting as a remote terminal to applications running on a host server. This means that the usual specs and performance criteria simply do not apply as all the processing is done on the host. The M1000 simply acts as a display with a keyboard that can be used anywhere within reach of a network. Tadpole's ultra-thin client software handles all connectivity and security, and even provides advanced features such as support for streaming HD video and real-time 3D graphics.
As far as specifications go, the Tadpole M1000 measures 10.4 x 7.3 inches, is 1.1 inches thick, and weighs about 2.85 pounds. That is just about identical to one of the latest generation netbooks, which means the M1000 is an exceedingly mobile and handy device. The M1000 also shares its display size and resolution with netbooks: 10.1 inches diagonally, 16:10 "wide format" aspect ratio, and 1024 x 600 pixel WSVGA resolution. The backlight is of the modern, efficient LED variety.
There's an 86-key keyboard that can emulate all the keys and functionality of a full 101-key standard keyboard. There's also a touchpad with two mouse buttons. No touch screen.
As far as connectivity goes, tthe Tadpole M1000 has two USB 2.0 ports, a VGA port, audio in and out, and an RJ45 LAN jack for when you want to connect the device to a wired LAN. For wireless connectivity, there is 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, and you can also get 3G Mobile Broadband or even old-fashioned modem functionality via USB.
Tadpole's mobile think clients are not designed to be field-rugged devices, but they are sturdy and well-built and can handle heavy use.
The emphasis here, however, is not on the hardware, but on the inherent strengths of the client-server architecture where all apps are on the network. These are:
Target markets for the M1000 are in government and defense, education, finance, healthcare and manufacturing. With nothing to manage or upgrade on the client itself, a significantly longer product life cycles (usually 2-3X or more), much lower training requirements, and extremely low per unit support cost, a system consisting of central servers and a contingent of netbook-sized M1000 devices in the field may well be the perfect solution for many applications.
- Reduced total cost of ownership
- Remote management
- Greater security and data protection
- Multiple OS support
- "Instant on" functionality
- Access to advanced desktop features on minimal local hardware
- Seamless, sustainable operation
- Potential "green" advantages
For an application case study, see Derby College Employs Ultra-Thin Client Notebook Computers.