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The palm-sized Plug PC thin client computer from Chip PC


December 21, 2010

Chip PC's Plug PC offers a high performance thin-client or virtual desktop solution in a small, low power form factor

Chip PC's Plug PC offers a high performance thin-client or virtual desktop solution in a small, low power form factor

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Having full-blown computers linked to a central server delivering applications to office workers is so last century. More and more businesses are choosing to deploy thin-client or virtual desktop solutions, where much of the storage and processing needs are met at the data center. Advantages often include low power draw at the user end, low maintenance, and minimal desktop footprint. Chip PC's Plug PC cross-platform thin client or virtual desktop computer solution offers maximum load power consumption of just 3W, is about the same size as a pack of cards, and benefits from a processor architecture that provides the equivalent of 1.8GHz x86 processing power.

The Plug PC's 3 x 2 x 0.9-inch (77 x 52 x 24mm) dimensions and weight of 2 ounces (62g) make it smaller, thinner and lighter than the company's Jack PC solution. It's also better suited to an ever-changing server-based/virtualized/cloud infrastructure and comes with a flexible Linux-based Thinx OS and Windows CE 6.0 R2, cross-platform design.

There's support for the latest Citrix HDX features, including MediaStream, which Chip PC claims "leverages the processing power of the device to render the multimedia content sending the compressed multimedia information directly to the device in its native format."

Within its black and silver enclosure sits a 528 MHz RMI 1250 RISC processor (1.8GHz x86 equivalent), which is said to give the user PC-like in-session performance. The chip includes local multimedia acceleration for powerful multimedia performance at up to 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution. Like the Jack PC, most of the data generated by users would be stored at the data center, so the device itself is provided with 256MB disk-on-chip flash storage and 128MB DDR2 RAM.

Connectivity is provided courtesy of four USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet with auto-negotiate TCP/IP with DNS and DHCP, and DVI-D digital video connection. There's also a couple of audio in/out jacks to the side.

Data center management and entire network monitoring is made possible with the company's Xcalibur Global management suite, which provides for a Microsoft Policy-based, Active Directory rules and permissions structure.

The Windows CE or Linux Plug PC draws just 0.35W of power in deep sleep and 3W power consumption at maximum load. The units come supplied with a wall-mount power supply, but there's also a power-by-monitor option available via the Chip PC USB power cable.

The solution was recently featured on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Green Solutions website, where the Windows CE Plug PC solution was deployed on campus at Lake Land College in the U.S. as part of its efforts to be carbon neutral by 2012.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden

Chip PC is not cheap(~$200) though the easiest turnkey project I've ever done was with these PlugPCs. I replaced 200 PCs across 10 office locations with these PlugPCs that connect to a Citrix XenApp server farm in the backend and they work great. The most amazing part is their management software, each PC replacement took 5 minutes per device, the management "took over" the devices and configured them with all necessary Keyboard / Screen / Printer & Citrix settings - which are unique in every branch! I love it. I hope pricing will go down with Netbooks being so cost effective, I really struggled explaining my management why does this small piece of HW costs so much.


This is perfect for large organizations, especially military and medical, with lots of sensitive data, that might be better managed with server-based PC\'s, not local PC\'s with lots of sensitive data stored on a local hard-drive.

These would sure save our organization a LOT of headaches with managing PC\'s and all their problems with crashing hard-drives, lost local data, etc. x 100.

Matt Rings

The processor seems almost underpowered given what phones and netbooks come with these days, though I can still see this as a nice set-up for anyone rom hospitals to public libraries

Charles Bosse

\"Having full-blown computers linked to a central server delivering applications to office workers is so last century.\" Wow, really? You know what I thought was last century? Dumb terminals connected to mainframes.

You know what\'s good for 2011? Nettops with the full power of a dedicated CPU and GPU.


You know what else is so last century? Windows CE and Linux.


stimpy77, I agree with you about Win-CE but LINUX?? Are you sure your not talking about UNIX? Ubuntu LINUX has been my fav since I first left Windoz about 4 years ago and never looked back! It is so versatile and has met my every need!

Will, the tink
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