May 25, 2011 (02:05 PM EDT)
Dell Releases Two New Thin Clients

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Dell OptiPlex FX170 & FX130
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Dell OptiPlex FX170 & FX130
Dell on Wednesday introduced two thin clients to its Desktop Virtualization portfolio, both intended for vertically focused enterprise markets.

The OptiPlex FX170 and FX130 thin clients are the smallest yet for Dell, at 1.5 inches wide and less than 1.5 pounds. Like other thin clients, they allow computation and file work to be done on a centralized application server that allows different points of access.

Dell says the thin clients are ideal for vertical markets such as education and healthcare and can even be used in a call center environment, where access to desktop PCs is controlled.

These thin clients "can be used in public sectors through the large enterprise, but we are really focused and continue to focus on the vertical markets," said John Holstrom, director of software and solutions product marketing in Dell's business client group.

Dell is offering the two models for high-end enterprise and lower-end computing, based on two different architectures. The OptiPlex FX170 runs on the Intel Atom 1.6-GHz processor, supports up to 1,600 by 1,200 32-bit color, and supports both Linux and Windows embedded 2009 operating systems. The FX130 features VIA Eden processor architecture and 1 GB of flash storage and supports up to 1,920 by 1,200 32-bit color.

Both thin clients feature fanless designs, four USB 2.0 ports, and 1 GB DDR2 memory and are about 6 by 1.5 by 5 inches. The thin clients come with Dell ProSupport, a three-year coverage plan.

Dell introduced its OptiPlex thin client product line in 2008 with the OptiPlex FX160. The FX170 is a replacement of the FX160, and the FX130 is in response to Dell seeing a market for clients who are "task-oriented workers and content creators," such as nurses needing mobile healthcare computing and people who work from home. The FX170, on the other hand, is for "knowledge workers" such as financial traders who need better graphics capabilities and real-time dual displays.

"We listened to what our customers needed in the thin client market and realized two separate products were needed," Holstrom said. "For the task-oriented worker we have the FX130, for people that are more price conscious and do more consuming rather creation. Then we have the knowledge worker for what the 170 is target for. … They need less than a full desktop and they need a thin client, but they need more power."

Dell's Virtual Lab 2.0 is another product in conjunction with the thin clients that gives IT administrators the ability to control access to shared application licenses, including Adobe Premiere, AutoCAD, Wolfram Mathmatica 7, Mathworks MatLab, SAS, and IBM SPSS. Virtual Lab 2.0 has disaster recovery, access management and tools for IT support.

The OptiPlex FX130 starts at $349 and the OptiPlex FX170 starts at $449.

The release of the thin clients was a good move for Dell, which is continuing its push into the enterprise, said Mika Kitagawa, principal analyst for Gartner, in an interview. Yet Dell faces strong competition from thin client market leaders Hewlett-Packard and Wyse. "They are in a really good position at the moment," Kitagawa said. "The thin client device market continues to see growth, and they have a pretty good customer base and strong relationship with Citrix and VMware as partners."

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