HP plans $200 zero client that can do HDX, PCoIP, or RemoteFX. (In the same client!)

Last week Gabe and I visited HP's main campus in Houston to meet with Tom Flynn, the CTO of their thin client group. We talked about a lot of cool things (tablets, Android, ARM, Windows Embedded, thin clients), and invited Tom to join us on our radio show next week.

Last week Gabe and I visited HP's main campus in Houston to meet with Tom Flynn, the CTO of their thin client group. We talked about a lot of cool things (tablets, Android, ARM, Windows Embedded, thin clients), and invited Tom to join us on our radio show next week. In the meantime, Tom let us record a video demo of an upcoming product they're working on--a $200(ish) zero client that can be reconfigured to use RDP, RemoteFX, HDX, or PCoIP.

At BriForum last year, HP showed off this thing they called the "Smart Service" which is essentially a $400 flexible thin client that can boot up and download one of many protocol packages from the configuration server. This is very cool (apart from the confusing name which makes it sound like a consulting offering instead of a thin client). The only problem really is that it's $400 while you can buy thin clients dedicated to a particular protocol for somewhere around $200. (So you're paying a couple hundred bucks to buy the right to change your mind in the future.)

So the new thin clients are basically just like that, except half the price. In addition to the low-power main CPU, the heavy lifting of the protocol work is done in a DSP. This gives them good performance with a cheap cost and lower power consumption.

Like the Wyse C class / Xenith, only flexible

At first glance, these upcoming HP clients seem a lot like the "C class" thin clients Wyse released back in 2009. As we wrote about then, the C class devices leverage the same "low cost CPU + DSP" to get good performance at a cheap price. (They're also in the $200 price range, depending on options.) I genuinely like the Wyse C class and had one on my desk for a long time.

Then in 2010, Wyse released a Citrix HDX-only zero client called the "Xenith." This was also cool, except for one weird catch: The Xenith is based on the exact same hardware as the C class thin client, except the two are not compatible, upgradeable, or interchangeable. In other words, if you buy a Wyse Xenith thin client, you get the CPU+DSP zero client solution for $200(ish), but you're stuck with an HDX-based thin client forever. If you later decide that you want to use RemoteFX or PCoIP, then you have to throw those away and buy new ones, even if the protocol you want is available in another C class model with the exact same hardware. (This is something that we made fun of Wyse for back in the day--the first Wyse Xenith they showed us literally had a piece of masking tape on the bottom with the word "converted" written on it, but Wyse was telling customers that it was not possible to convert them!)

So that's why I like this new concept from HP. You've got thin clients that are small and cheap and you can use them with any protocol or product.

Video Demo

If you'd like to see a demo of these in action (to get an understanding of the performance of each) or to hear HP's Tom Flynn talk about more of the technical details, we shot a 15min demo video last week:


We learned a few things in that video, including how HP is getting / creating versions of the various remote display protocols to run on the DSP, and how these $200 clients will only be able to run one protocol at a time. (i.e. if you want a local browser or to connect to multiple simultaneous remote sessions via different protocols, you'll need to buy a more expensive thin client with more hardware.

So what do you think? Is this a cool thing, or something that doesn't really matter in the real world? Would you buy a thin client or zero client that locked you in to a single desktop protocol?

Your move Wyse!

By the way, when we were at HP, we were surprised to find that they had HP Thin Client cookies for us. I tweeted a photo along with a caption of "HP has thin client cookies. Your move Wyse!" Then a few days later I got a delivery from Wyse:

Brian likes to eat

So I guess the same applies for the thin clients. HP's going to have $200 thin clients that can run any protocol. Your move Wyse!

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So HP (a long term Citrix partner) doesn't know what is happening with the HDX system-on-a-chip technology that Citrix announced in Barcelona last year.




No, they talked about it in the video. This is the HDX System on a Chip. Citrix is not making the chip, they're going to market with it with partners like HP and Wyse.


Not bad... What about vWorkspace support?

At least it's not as ugly as most of HP's thin clients!


I would have liked to see you grill HP on how these thin devices will be managed. The bane of thin devices is klunky system management that demands infrastructure overkill. If they can nail down simplicity in managing these devices at that price, then they'll have a winner. Another thing: Sooo, will I be able to install Windows 8 on those ARM processor thin devices?


The management is exactly the same as how it is today with HP's Smart Service offering. The only difference is that the client will be $200 instead of $400. BTW, if you haven't looked at the Smart Service, it's kind of like the Wyse Xenith where there's a config package on a URL, so each time the client boots up it checks to see if it has the latest config, and if not, it downloads the new one along with any changes, alternate protocol packages, etc.

As for Win8 on these.. maybe that's a good question for next week's radio show. :)


Any mention of RGS, their own remote graphics protocol? (Does anyone even use RGS???)


Brian - Listen to what Tom said at about 6:40 in the video

"We believe they [Citrix] demonstrated that [HDX SoC] in Barcelona"

I interpret that as meaning that HP doesn't know for certain what is happening with HDX SoC.


This is a really cool demo. i really like the flexibility of PXE booting the thin client based on an IP address range determining the protocol and using the same hardware. if they do deliver this at a $00 ish price point, i think it will really be compelling.

they should call this product HP UP :) for united Protocols

@Simon, i agre with you , it did not feel like HP and Citrix are in lockstep. It would be a shame to not be part of this effort 100%



Intersting video, I took the same from this as Simon in that they're as in the dark as the rest of us as to how and where the Citrix SoC will emerge. I also know from first hand conversations Igel haven't much of an idea what Citrix are working on in the background.

Strange they focused on a CAD / high render application. This use case is so small. Mediastream and mediastream for flash is a big challenge for any current thin client house. Both above technologies redirections look aweful on the $200 entry level linux devices from Wyse, hp and Igel. Leaving most administrators panic'd as renewal draws close and the thoughts of having to shell out for heavyweight thin clients set in.

Having gotten up close and personal with the devices at synergy, I'm still holding out to see what Citrix will deliver as the richness of content delivered even from those demo models far surpassed what we saw here today in this demo.

Dearest HP, Wyse, Igel, etc please demo the HDX Mediastream redirection technologies on this new technology and I'll bake you some cookies myself.


Brian I think you need to do a little coverage on this.  www.citrix.com/tv

I have not had the overall best luck with  either HP and wyse....  But this it look very interesting!  Would love to hear more about this