HP has produced two new thin clients and improved its blade PC architecture and workstation.

The changes will give enterprises more control over alternatives to conventional desktop PCs, the company said, plus cut the costs and administrative burden of user computing.

Blade-based computing converts high-powered PCs into narrow boxes which can be centrally managed and secured in a data centre. Users can log onto this Consolidated Client Infrastructure (CCI) system, with up to 280 blades, from anywhere. Thin clients let enterprises shift applications to central servers, and then simply display the user interface on a desktop.

An updated version of HP's Session Allocation Manager, which assigns incoming users to the appropriate blade, now lets sysadmins customise the client interface. It can also manage HP’s recently announced blade workstations, which are PC platforms equipped with a powerful graphics card and HP’s remote graphics protocol. The new version costs from $29 to $36 per blade.

Also new is the HP Compaq t5135 Thin Client, an entry-level model that runs the HP Thin Client OS, based on a version of Linux. It is designed for simple, automated deployments. Plug in the 5135, connect it to the LAN, and turn it on: it logs onto a corporate FTP server, downloads its settings in an .ini file, self-installs it, and is up and running. Whenever the user logs on, the device checks the server for the most up-to-date software and settings. The client software includes a Web browser, media player and terminal emulator.

The t5530 Thin Client uses the same chassis, but runs Windows CE, and includes a hidden, lockable compartment with two ports for USB-based wireless adapters. It can also act as a "master thin client" to up to 100 subordinates. That means that a standard software image on the master can be updated or changed, and the master will replicate this to the subordinates.

As with HP’s existing thin clients, the new ones carry a full licence to work with Altiris’ enterprise thin client management application. But HP has added two new management features of its own, which will ship on all thin clients.

One is the Thin State Tool, which lets administrators capture in a USB key all the settings and configuration information they’ve just set up for a given thin client. By plugging that key into another HP thin client, the key automatically configures the new device with those same settings.

The second is the HP OpenView Client Configuration Manager Basic Edition. This is a small agent program that runs on the device and works through the OpenView Client Configuration Manager program for those sites running the OpenView management infrastructure.

The t5135 will be available from 1 February, with a starting list price of $200. The t5530 will be available from 1 March, starting at $300.