Thanks to the success of the Lab Anywhere initiative, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be seeing some innovative new computers soon. Learning and Technology Services will be piloting thin client computers in selected e-mail stations and computer labs.
Thin clients are specialized computers that are designed to have the closest-to-zero overall footprint. This means low energy consumption, no moving parts, minimal maintenance, and a small overall size.
In terms of energy consumption, the thin clients will consume less than 30 watts. On average, they seem to actually consume about 14 watts. In comparison, a standard Dell desktop computer typically consumes about 200 watts.
These thin clients also have a physically small footprint. Even the slim Dell desktops are large in comparison to these thin clients; in fact, they are only about the size of three decks of cards!
Thin clients require significantly less maintenance than standard desktops. These thin clients have no fans and no hard drives. Believe it or not, they actually have no moving parts at all! They do not even have any software installed on them.
The thin clients serve as terminals that connect into the Lab Anywhere virtual lab, and run campus software from this virtual environment.
But here is the icing on the cake: no one should even notice the difference between the thin clients and standard desktops. Despite all the benefits gained by switching from desktops to thin clients, the user experience should not change.
Editor's note: Lab Anywhere can be used by any UW-Eau Claire students and staff on their personal computers and tablets. Over 1,000 people have tried it, and we're getting rave reviews! Check out the Lab Anywhere web page to see a complete list of available software, link to Online Help for various software platforms, and a brief instructional video.