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HP Thin Clients: Unraveling the Mystery

HP Thin Clients: Unraveling the Mystery

Dwight Pavlovic
With a variety of different configurations and designs, the growing family of HP thin client desktops is a powerful, secure solution for your personal office or the entire business. Compact and easy to use, a thin client is a great way to promote efficiency and security from the ground up.
Convenience, independence, and security are just a few of the benefits that come with the latest HP thin client PCs. They’re affordable, more difficult to attack than conventional PCs, and come with strong marks for manageability whether you’re maintaining a few thin clients or a few hundred.

What is a thin client computer?

In basic terms, a thin client is a PC that relies heavily on the cloud for its functionality. Because this product line has diversified over the years there are actually a few different answers to that question if we dive deeper.
Just like with other types of computers, you can find thin clients with varying performance specs and physical dimensions. As a whole, though, all of HP’s thin clients are:
  • Energy efficient
  • Built to save space
  • Feature streamlined management tools.

The secure choice for fleet management

Improving management for larger organizations is a major draw for thin clients.
With most thin clients, their built-in specs are pretty minimal for space-saving purposes. This means that the majority of the heavy lifting happens in the cloud, with a secure server behind the scenes. This allows a large group of users to work from a centralized repository of data, meaning your critical files are easier to maintain and are kept secure against individual attacks.
This makes HP thin clients particularly useful for bigger organizations looking to upgrade or expand to an effective tech solution. That’s particularly true when you consider that many workplaces have shifted away from the traditional office setup, opening up more potential vulnerabilities and unknowns.
These days, many of us work from more than just a single desk, workspace, or even office. With an HP thin client fleet, it’s easy to add flexibility, scale, and security without worrying about uncertainty. You also get the benefit of a streamlined system that requires less power and less complex IT support, that way you won’t have to worry about extra costs or maintenance.

Improved variety and quality

Most HP thin client configurations are designed as desktop computers, but users typically imagine just one design: the increasingly common slim desktop configuration. It’s true that the most recognizable thin client format resembles a small, flat cube, but that’s not your only option. It’s now easy to find laptops and all-in-one (AiO) desktops that serve a similar purpose, especially as cloud computing continues to improve.

The difference between thin clients and zero clients

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of thin clients and their unique features, there’s one critical distinction that it’s important to understand before you make a purchase. You may already have encountered a variety of small client devices, but the two main types that manufacturers have brought to market are thin clients and zero clients. Though similar, there are some important differences to keep in mind.
Thin clients offer a mixture of built-in and cloud features that support server-based computing with local storage and memory. However, a zero client is built more completely around the cloud. Instead of an embedded operating system, zero clients use remote server access for all their functionality. Setup is extremely easy and users don’t have to worry much about common hassles like managing software updates.
The streamlined hardware configuration also means that zero clients generally have no moving parts, so they’re guaranteed to run quietly and produce low heat under most circumstances.

Benefits of an HP thin client

Ultimately, the main advantages of an HP thin client center on convenience. These devices provide functionality and power for employees in a highly compact form with tons of features that reduce maintenance stress and offer the potential for scale.
It’s worth noting that while many older thin clients sacrificed ports or connectivity, that’s not the case with the latest HP models. Most feature no fewer than four USB ports, for example, and you can find as many as nine on entries like the HP t730 Thin Client in addition to support for HDMI, DisplayPort™, and VGA.

Easy to use

With extremely competitive pricing and features, thin clients provide a more efficient and affordable way to deploy PC resources on a large scale. Many HP thin clients ship with HP Thin Pro or Windows IoT operating systems, both of which provide a familiar and functional interface at a fraction of the price and with dramatically reduced maintenance requirements.
HP thin clients are super-strong when it comes to management. They come with a suite of support software like HP Device Manager and HP Easy Shell to help users manage their resources most effectively. Dozens, hundreds, even thousands of devices and users can be easily managed from a single device.

High security

Thin clients are extremely well protected against the unexpected compared to their bigger computing family members. Thin client PCs offer simplicity and unbeatable potential in terms of security, with a fundamentally secure design and fewer opportunities for bad actors to exploit. Plus, many models offer the same optional biometric safeguards as standard PCs.

Convenient design

As their name implies, thin clients are small - very small. Most models measure less than an inch thick, so they’re just as convenient to carry and travel with as a mini PC or laptop. Also, like other smaller computers, most HP thin client PCs also come with built-in VESA mounting options. That means you can easily mount yours behind your display, under your desk, or just about anywhere you need to.

Incredible energy efficiency

Because thin clients are much smaller than typical PCs, they’re also much more energy efficient. Your overall performance will depend on your network and server resources, but these computers consume far less power compared to their bigger counterparts. You can shop with confidence knowing the entire HP thin client family offers superb credentials as far as environmental impact. In fact, several models feature both ENERGY STAR® certification and the competitive EPEAT® rating.

Lower price

Thanks to their more efficient build, thin clients offer substantial savings at checkout, too. While that can be a big bonus for your budget, it’s still up to you to understand your needs. There are costs associated with servers and cloud services, of course, so it’s important that you think about the future and how your overall needs may change.

Thin client weaknesses

Less potential for upgrades

While you typically can’t make substantial hardware upgrades or adjustments to a thin client due to its size, you can always improve its performance and capacity by supplementing your routine with cloud storage, making server upgrades, or adding new services to your build.
So, even though you may not be able to get away with adding much to the actual computer, there are always ways to improve your experience. Also, this doesn’t mean you can’t find options with more robust local performance either. For example, the HP mt21 mobile thin client offers a range of RAM options to even outperform some traditional desktop PCs.

Reduced local performance

There are lots of advantages to an HP thin client, particularly the potential found within its small form factor. However, those same benefits bring about one obvious disadvantage: reduced local performance compared to a conventional desktop PC. There are ways to compensate for this, but if you need powerful local performance, a thin client is probably not for you.

Great thin clients from HP

If you’re shopping for a thin client solution right now, you’ll be glad to know HP® is an industry leader in this realm. We have a wealth of options featuring the Windows IoT for thin clients (previously known as Windows Embedded) or the popular Linux-based HP ThinPro OS. Let’s take a look at a few of HP’s standout thin clients.

1. HP t730, t630, and t430 thin clients

HP t730 thin client is a great example of one of HP’s offerings from its line of thin clients for many reasons, but primarily because you can configure it in so many ways. It’s built around a robust quad-core AMD RX-427BB APU with integrated Radeon® HD 9000 graphics, and it features support for Ultra High Definition and 4K displays. You can even connect to up to four displays from this one tiny device.
There are tons of other options available in the same class, all within a spectrum of prices. The HP t430 thin client is a strong budget-minded option, while the HP t630 thin client balances price and features. All three of these models are great candidates for display performance because they all boast the same support for UHD and 4K.

2. HP mt21 mobile thin client

For the most portability, the HP mt21 mobile thin client is a standout that weighs just over 3.5 lbs and measures less than an inch thick. With a spill-resistant HP premium keyboard and 14-inch High Definition display, you’re able to get started right out of the box. You can load it up with as much as 8GB of RAM and efficient SSD storage.
Powered by an Intel® Celeron® 3865U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 610, this device even features a long-lasting battery for as much as 15 hours and 30 minutes of use.

3. HP t310 G2 all-in-one zero client

With no external PC case and a high-res 23.8-inch Full High Definition display, the HP t310 G2 All-in-One zero client is a complete system with the keyboard included. It also offers plenty of connection options, reliable security, and multi-display support. Plus, it has a 3-year limited warranty including parts, labor, and on-site repair. If you only need the computer and not the AiO additions, consider the HP t310 zero client with a streamlined standard edition or a robust quad-display model.

In summary

HP thin client PCs are a great way to add scale, improve security, and reduce costs for users of all kinds. Whether you’re outfitting and upgrading an office or simply need something new for your home workspace, a thin client can be the right choice for you.
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.

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