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July 16, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:55pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Market-leading network computer vendor Tektronix Inc is taking a one-size-fits-all approach to NCs by replacing its existing NetStation 200 and 400 models with a second-generation device called NC200 which can run Java, PC, Unix and legacy applications. Tektronix hopes the small pizza-box-style desktop, which starts at $1,300 with support for MPEG-1 digital video but without monitor, will be used by customers services representatives, bank tellers and claims processors. It says most companies are now investigating cost-of-ownership issues associated with thin client or network computing, because if they are true, then NC architectures will have to be implemented. The NC200 uses NEC Corp’s 100MHz implementation of the Mips 4300 RISC and includes the Network Computing Inc Navio NC Navigator browser – which the Oracle Corp subsidiary does not appear to be using in its own NC Server and Desktop suites (CI No 3,189) and a Java interpreter. It runs an X server for displaying Unix applications which is either downloaded from a server or from local Flash memory, and a WinDD client for running PC applications remotely. WinDD uses Citrix systems Inc’s eponymous ICA multi-user NT and display protocols. There are optional emulators available for running legacy applications, 100Base-T Ethernet, audio and a $100 device for speeding graphics performance by 25%. There’s a Motif graphical user interface-alike set-up menu and remote file configuration system. The NC200, which conforms to the Network Computer Reference Profile, ships immediately in a couple of configurations with support from 8Mb to 72Mb RAM, and up to 4Mb Flash memory. The NC200E supports screen resolutions of up to 1024×768 but does not support video or the performance extender. It costs from $800. The NC200H supports resolutions of up to 1280×1024 and all of the options. It costs from $1,300. Monitors are available in various sizes up to 21; a high-end configuration costs $3,700. Missing from the initial release is a slot to support PCMCIA peripherals and other add-ons.

Confusing for customers

Tektronix says it hasn’t created separate software options that support Java, emulation and Windows on the device like NC rival HDS Network Systems Inc has done with the operating environment for its new NeoStations (CI No 3,189), claiming it’s too confusing for customers. Despite the question mark over Citrix Systems Inc’s long-term future, Tektronix says it’ll continue to support ICA in WinDD, claiming it already offers the best add-on functionality in the areas of administration and load-balancing and expects the company to continue to developing more of it. Existing NetStation 200 and 400 users – IBM’s using the name NetStation for its own NCs, which may indicate why Tektronix has changed the name of its devices – can upgrade to the NC200 software environment, which the company calls NC Bridge, for $75. Tektronix says it’s improved the Navio NC Navigator browser to support more local caching of files. NC Bridge does not support remote file sharing mechanisms such as Microsoft CIFS or Sun’s WebNFS. Tektronix says it’ll continue to sell its vanilla X Windows terminals for now and claims to have some unnamed OEMs waiting in the wings. We wonder whether they may include Silicon Graphics Inc, which has no NC of its own but has recently agreed to cooperate more closely with Tektronix on delivering video over networks and the internet and is also the owner of the Mips microprocessor technology Tektronix uses. Tektronix says it will be adding specialised technology to new versions of the NC designed to support desktop video conferencing including support from within Java for its Spotlight VideoServer which is already available from a browser plug-in. It’s also going integrate the NC Bridge tools so that, for example, WinDD can be opened from within Java and vice versa, and enable users to customise their front-end so that it can appear like a Windows program manager or a Java browser.

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