Sun Ray 170 pushes ultrathin-client computing

Sun Microsystems Inc. Sun Ray 170 ultrathin-client system.

With the Dec. 10 release of the all-in-one Sun Ray 170 ultrathin-client system, Sun Microsystems Inc. claims it has reinvented the format.

The 170's screen folds backward and the unit collapses to about 4 inches high. The footprint is smaller than that of earlier Sun Rays, and the installation simpler.

Product manager Mason Uyeda touted the thin-client model, which puts compute and storage resources on a secured server and leaves only display and entry functions on the client, as virusproof. Sun Ray Server 3 software runs on the back-end server and hosts end users' StarOffice or Java Desktop System applications, as well as a Mozilla Web browser.

Uyeda predicted that by 2008, thin clients would represent about 10 percent of desktop systems worldwide.

The ultrathin 170 has four USB ports; a Fast Ethernet port; a built-in reader for finger, facial or retina biometrics; and a VGA connection for a projector. The USB connections can be used to hook up an antenna for wireless access or be disabled to prevent data theft in high-security environments.

Organizations can use the Sun Ray 170 in conjunction with Sun's Java card for authentication and sign-on. Java-based smart cards incorporate passwords, biometric identifiers and other security information. When a Sun Ray user removes the Java card, all the processes on the thin client are wiped out and the user's desktop reverts to the server until the card is reinserted in a Sun Ray.

The ultrathin 170 lists for $1,049 with a 1,280- by 1,024-pixel, 17-inch LCD monitor.

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