Thursday, September 22, 2005

Wyse Up At Home

We'd all like a PC now and then in the kitchen, bedroom, family room, bathroom, or other rooms of the house, for browsing and emailing. But adding a home PC today is like adopting a pet--it's a serious commitment of time, money, and tender, loving care to keep it up to date, secure, performant, and free of adware. Who has time for this? Plus you need to free up (or build) and ventilate cabinet space, hiding away the wires and hoping no one complains about the fan noise. And unless you want your electric bill to spike from powering all those machines, you'll have wait 10 minutes before each usage for the computer to boot (who has time for that?).

My family has solved this problem using thin clients. For under $100 per unit on eBay (plus the cost of a small, simple monitor), we sprinkle little Wyse thin clients throughout the house so that one is always on and accessible. We now hide the two noisy PC's in a closet, along with the UPS and external storage. From any thin client, you push a button to connect in under 2 seconds to either computer or, as I do, to my computer at work. The performance is surprisingly good--indistinguishable, in fact, from using a local PC (even when connecting to my office PC). And as each user moves around from terminal to terminal, the desktop follows him or her, exactly as it had appeared during the previous session.

Wyse and other manufacturers make thin clients of varying sophistication, including some that run real operating systems (Windows, Linux) and local applications. But I like the thinnest, simplest ones--the Wyse clients that run their proprietary Blazer OS. It's fast, cheap, and just smart enough to run the RDP and Citrix protocols, a Wifi stack, and lots of local I/O.

Specifically, the 1200LE and 1125SE both support 100MB ethernet connections and an optional Wifi card in case you don't have Cat5 in your bathroom. (To be clear, I'm not a shareholder in Wyse, nor did I invest in eBay.)

Installation is simple, and now I have only 2 PC's to manage, even though we have 8 workstations around the house.

The only downside is that you can't run video over RDP or Citrix, so either give your kids their own PC/minimac or, as we do, just stick the kids in the computer closet.


  1. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Very cool. I saw a presentation at a VC conference by Thintropy a few weeks back. Similar technology (out of Columbia U.) that works seamlessly with video as well. Still in prototype stage though

  2. Anonymous12:01 PM