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General Dynamics Itronix Tadpole M1500 Ultra-Thin Client

New full-size, high-res ultra-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 M1500 Ultra-Thin Client, an industrial-quality, full-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 M1500 is an entirely different animal. Configured as a "thin client," the M1500 does not have local storage or computing capabilities. Instead, it is acting as a remote terminal to applications running on a host server (or multiple application servers). This means that the usual specs and performance criteria simply do not apply as all the processing is done on the host. The M1500 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 14.1 x 11.0 inches, is 1.8 inches thick, and weighs just under 6 pounds. That is about the size of standard notebook computer, meaning the M1500 can go anywhere a notebook can. The M1500 also shares its display size and resolution with standard notebooks: 15.4 inches diagonally, 16:10 "wide format" aspect ratio, and gratifingly 1440 x 900 pixel WXGA 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 M1500 has three USB 2.0 ports, VGA and HDMI ports, 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. The M1500 also offers Smart Card security in addition to session manager-based secure access.

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:

  • 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
Target markets for the M1500 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 low per unit support cost, a system consisting of central servers and a contingent of compact notebook-sized M1500 devices in the field may well be the perfect solution for many applications.

For an application case study, see Derby College Employs Ultra-Thin Client Notebook Computers.

Added/changed Added 06/2010
Processor NA
CPU Speed NA
OS Sun Ray 5 in conjunction with Sun Ray Server 4.2 on Solaris 10 on SPARC or x86 servers or Sun Ray 5 on Linux
Chipset/Graphics NA
Standard/Max RAM NA
Disk/drive none
Optical media none
Card slots Express Card 34/54, 1 Smart Card
Display type TFT with LED backlight
Display size/res 15.4" WXGA (1440 x 900 pixel)
Digitizer/pens NA
Keyboard/scale 86/87-key keyboard with 101/102 key emulation and 2-button touchpad
Housing unknown
Operating Temp 41 - 95C
Sealing unknown
Drip unknown
Shock unknown
Altitude up to 10,000 feet operating
Humidity 10-90% non-condensing
Security Inherent thin client security; Kensington lock
Size (WxHxD) 14.1 x 11.0 x 1.8 inches
Weight 5.9 lbs.
Power 9-cell 7,800mAH Li-Ion
Interface 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, optional 3G Mobile Broadband
Interface RJ45 LAN (10/100), 3 USB 2.0, VGA, HDMI, audio in/out
List price inquire
Contact www.gd-itronix.com,
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