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Where is the Personal Computer Headed?

by Chas Arnold, VP Sales and Marketing

Chas Arnold
Where is the personal computer headed? With the advances in cloud computing and software as a service (see previous blogs), the need for a traditional personal computer is decreasing. Personal computers with local software files and high capacity are being traded down for smaller computers with less power that retrieve data from a centralized server or datacenter- often called thin clients or “smart terminals”. Scaled down computers or thin clients are not as costly and can still provide the same user experience of a personal computer, just delivered a little differently. So what exactly are these smart terminals and should you jump on the downsizing bandwagon? What benefits are there and why trade up your flashy PC for a simpler version?

First things first…What is a thin client or smart terminal? It is a computer that relies on some other computer (like a server) to fulfill traditional computing roles. A thin client can be a stripped down PC with little to no software that talks to a server to get its files, email and applications. A thin client can also be a small box attached to the back of your monitor or a device you plug into a USB port on your computer. They need only have the bare bones to get you online, while the true computer is in a datacenter down the hall or in the next state.

So the important question, why use a thin client?

• Decreased cost
A traditional personal computer can cost upwards of $1000 before you even get to security, upgrades, and maintenance costs, while a thin client can be purchased for less than $200. Applications, security, upgrades and more can be purchased monthly using a cloud service or SaaS provider.

• Decreased maintenance
Instead of working on each personal computer separately, thin clients give IT personal the ability to globally maintain workstations, meaning they only have to perform upgrades and system maintenance once for all computers on the network.

• Reduced Consumption
Thin clients are a smaller footprint where the environment is concerned. They use less energy and take up less space on a desktop than a personal computer.

• Seamless User Experience
Thin clients are capable of delivering the same user experience as traditional PC’s. Depending on what your business is, there are varying levels of thin clients that can offer the same functionality including video, 3D graphics, and audio.

So if you just purchased a fleet of new desktops, thin client computing may not be your best bet. But for those who are looking to upgrade in the near future, tossing out the personal computer model may make a lot of sense.

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