Thin-client vendor Devon IT announced today Ceptor, a USB memory stick-sized device that plugs into a monitor or display, transforming it into a zero client. The $89 multimedia VDI client, reminiscent of Dell's forthcoming Project Ophelia, represents another contender for replacing traditional computing devices in the post-PC era.
Similar to traditional thin clients, Ceptor aims to provide end-users with secure access to their virtual desktops. Users plug the Ceptor into any HDMI-capable TV or monitor and are then presented with direct access to a virtual desktop environment (such as Citrix, VMWare, RDP, RemoteFX, and others).
This type of plug-and-play thin clients could prove valuable in the right settings: They're designed to deliver the benefits of traditional thin clients, including superior security and manageability; they're also less expensive than traditional thin clients, they're easier to transport, they use less power, and they take up less space.
Given their dependence on Internet access, these plug-and-play zero clients aren't intended to replace notebooks or tablets for mobile workers. Rather, "Ceptor is a viable alternative for a mobile user who does not have to connect while on the go but rather needs to connect in numerous settings," according to Paul Mancini, VP of marketing at Devon IT.
That includes users who need to access their desktop from home, at the office, when visiting a remote location, or in a cubicle-sharing situation. The caveat is that a user needs Internet access to use the device, though that's not a significant obstacle in enterprise environments.
Ceptor comes loaded with ZetOS, a lightweight version of Devon's Linux-kernel-based DetOS thin-client platform. Hardware-wise, Ceptor has an ARM Cortex A9 1GHz CPU, 512M/1GB of DDR3L memory, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. Ceptor also includes USB On-the-Go via a USB-B micro host port as well as high-definition 1080P video output.
Ceptor runs in a stateless condition. Users are unable to execute software or initiate remote sessions that administrators have not authorized. The device does not broadcast or auto-discover network protocols, according to Mancini, thereby eliminating the need for special firewall or routing rules. Given that the terminals have no local persistent memory, users don't need to worry about viruses or malware. The client doesn't save any profile data, only data pertaining to WiFi connection, audio level, keymap, and language.
System admins can manage Ceptors via Devon IT's Echo thin client management software platform. Echo provides centralized control, including the ability to remotely add, delete, or change software configuration on a device; backup and restore capabilities; the ability to create and assign profiles to provision thin clients' configuration and role; event logging; and shadowing. The Echo console also provides admins with the ability to grant or decline USB storage access to a user or user group.
For the Ceptor, the system administrator configures the desktop, whereas with traditional thin client, users get to manipulate their desktops. Putting that power in admins' hands reduces IT service-support requests, according to Mancini.
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