British security firm Becrypt has become the latest firm to announce a thin-client PC wrapped inside a small black stick that plugs into any monitor or TV via HDMI.
Called the ‘tVolution Mini’, the device uses a Rockchip RK3188 quad-core ARM processor, most likely 2GB of RAM, 8GB internal storage, plus integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, two USB ports with Ethernet as an option. Power consumption is quoted as 8 watts and is powered via USB, mains or, if MHL is available, from the monitor itself. The device’s weight is 28 grams and it is based on Rikomagic's MK802IV platform.
Unlike Becrypt’s standard tVolution thin client system that runs run atop Linux, the tVolution Mini is based on the AOSP version of Android, locked down so that users can’t modify applications.
The point of the Mini is to provide fully-managed remote working through which users access virtualised applications (Citrix, VMware and Microsoft RDP) and cloud resources. It is also portable and can be used to offer computing resources to contractors without the risks associated with conventional PCs.
Supporting VPN access via Cisco and Juniper clients out of the box, management is through a mobile device management (MDM) platform which allows password rests, remote wipe, and application control. Security is also interesting with a built-in firewall, data encryption capability and secure boot process.
“Although it looks like a USB stick or credit card, tVolution Mini is a PC in its own right, which means it doesn't rely on another device's operating making it more secure,” said Becrypt CEO, Dr Bernard Parsons.
"Because it is managed centrally, it ensures a cost effective, secure and flexible solution, at a fraction of the cost of laptops, and with lower risk and complexity than BYOD. The tVolution Mini provides a significant saving over the costs of providing a fully managed locked down laptop,”
Thin client sticks have been kicking around for some years in a number of forms (including Becrypt's 'Trusted Client from 2007) but have recently become a growing category, presumably because of customer demand on the back of their low cost and better security compared to conventional PCs.
Last year Intel showed off the proof-of-concept Compute Stick device while even Google’s cloud-based Chrome OS will soon be on sale inside something called the Chromebit. The tVolution Mini is take on the same idea evolved for enterprise use.
One hurdle is it’s not yet clear what this category of product should be called. Thin client is probably the best explanation but is associated with larger devices than the Mini. ‘Smart device’ might be another moniker but almost any device can be described as smart.
As yet, the analysts have not come up with a tag line. That is bound to change.
The price for the tVolution Mini has not yet been confirmed.