Wyse Technology is selling a line of thin-client computers with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, making them easier to deploy in public places like airports and hotel lobbies.
The V-Class systems announced Wednesday include embedded hardware and software for connecting to 802.11b and 802.11g wireless networks. Previously, adding wireless capabilities to the clients meant plugging in a Wi-Fi PC Card or USB (Universal Serial Bus) adapter.
Thin clients are networked computers that typically have no hard drive and rely on a central server for their applications and storage. They've gained traction with some businesses because they're considered easier to manage than full-fledged PCs, and they consume less power, although they are also less flexible.
Embedding the Wi-Fi components in the client is better for use in public places, where they would otherwise be easier to steal. The wireless technology also makes it simpler to use the terminals in places that lack Ethernet or other wireline technologies.
"We see these being used in environments like airports, schools, and other public areas where you don't always have Ethernet," David Angwin, a Wyse senior marketing manager based in the U.K.
The clients don't support the 802.11i protocol because a standard has not yet been finalized. When it is approved, customers who have already bought the wireless V-Class systems may be able to have them updated by Wyse to support the newer protocol, Angwin said.
Existing V-Class systems could also be upgraded to include embedded wireless capabilities, Angwin said. V-Class is Wyse's highest-performing family of thin clients. They're offered with three operating systems: Windows CE, Windows XP Embedded and Linux.
For security, the new wireless clients support the WPA (Wi-Fi protected access) and WPA2 protocols for network authentication, as well as WEP (wired equivalent privacy), EAP (extensible authentication protocol), RC4 and TKIP (temporal key integrity protocol) standards.
The clients are on sale now in North America and are in the process of being shipped to other parts of the world, Angwin said. In Europe, they are priced at £325 ($612) or €479 ($608) for the Windows CE version, £349 or €513 for the Wyse Linux version, and £397 or €583 for the Windows XP embedded version.