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A new series of wireless thin clients is being shipped by Wyse bound for customers ranging from airports to health care facilities.

The new V-Class clients integrate high-end thin clients that Wyse is already selling for wired networks with a built-in 802.11b and 802.11g wireless device. The new thin client can be integrated into a network simply buy plugging it into an electrical outlet and making it part of the corporate network.

Jeff McNaught, vice president of marketing and customer support for Wyse Technology in San Jose, Calif., said that the new thin clients can do anything that the company’s existing wired clients are already doing.

“These thin clients have our fastest processors, and our richest graphics. It’s intended for the richest display that you can get in a thin client.”

McNaught said that ease of use and set up, as well as flexibility, are important to customers.

“Customers appreciate the ability to take it out of the box, plug it in and start using it without a lot of gnashing of teeth,” he said.

McNaught noted that customers have flexibility in deciding what they want the client to do for them, adding that there is a choice of three operating systems with these devices: Linux, Windows CE or Windows XP Embedded.

McNaught said that security was critical, and said that the new devices support a wide variety of wireless security options, including WEP and several versions of WPA.

“We’ve really worked hard to make sure that this is a device that will be compatible with the security strategy they’ve already got in place,” McNaught said of his customers.

McNaught said that the new V-Series thin clients will likely be very important in health care because it’s much easier to meet HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance requirements.

However, he also said that there are other uses for the thin clients, such as in airports.

“In Airports they’re used for FIDs [flight information displays] which have been wired for video but not for Ethernet,” he said. McNaught also said that it can sometimes cost more to run the wire to the thin client than the cost of the entire client in the first place.

“It’s the next logical step to take,” said Bob O’Donnell, an analyst for IDC. “If you want to provide a solution in the enterprise these days, there is a certain portion of the people who are looking for the flexibility of wireless.”

O’Donnell said that one good example of companies using wireless clients is with kiosks, where it could be expensive to run cable to the middle of a lobby for example.

“It’ll be in other environments where there isn’t a handy Ethernet connection available,” he said.

O’Donnell said that wireless technology is finally at the point where thin clients make sense.

“It’s an indication of the maturity of the category of thin clients in that it’s evolving to reflect how the infrastructure has changed,” he said.

“These devices are entirely network dependant. So it’s critical that the network be robust. These devices have to follow what happens at the infrastructure level.”

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O’Donnell said that while wireless thin clients will probably never be a mainstream choice, they are at least feasible given the current state of Wi-Fi technology.

“This gives you the flexibility that when wireless makes more sense, these are available as an option. It’s another tool in the toolset for an IT shop.”

McNaught was unable to provide pricing, but he said that the wireless capability adds approximately fifty dollars to the cost of a wired Wyse thin client.

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