Apple has announced a new device called the iPad. I understand that it will be something like an iPod touch, but with a 10″ screen. You might have heard of it. This might be Apple’s way of entering the netbook market which it has avoided thus far. Or it might be a good e-Reader to compete with the Kindle (maybe). However, I like to look forward to it as a thin client to a virtual desktop. Citrix has announced an iPad app to access virtual desktops running under XenApp or XenDesktop. This is interesting, but the fact is that iPhone already has native VPN support and there are several Remote Desktop Client iPhone apps out there now. So no offense Citrix, but who cares? In the short term, we can just leave the user’s physical desktop/laptop running in their office and connect to it remotely from anywhere the iPad has a signal.
To be fair, virtual desktops have been hindered in my mind by the lack of a compelling thin client. With it’s decent screen size and coherent Apple multi-touch interface, a VPN/RDP solution for the iPad may be the thin client I have been waiting for. This solution might even prove to be a workable alternative to a laptop. Offline use during flights, etc. will be an issue, but more airlines are adding WiFi to help keep us connected to the internet at all times. Certain senior executives seem to like having the newest, lightest laptops available. So dump the laptop, get an iPad, and keep a desktop running somewhere else. Who knows, there might even be budget to build a XenDesktop server at some point.
However, another alternative is using an Android tablet. Android phones also have both VPN and RDP clients available. I am particularly interested in this new Pixel Qi technology which is a full color “transflective” LCD that claims to be competitive to e-ink in bright light. A company called Notion Ink will be producing an Android tablet with a Pixel Qi screen that should be available this summer. Android OS may lack the coherence of Apple’s mobile offerings, but that Pixel Qi screen would be compelling if it works as advertised. The Notion Ink device might be a better Kindle-killer than the iPad.
I am not normally a gadget person, but I am probably going to buy both an iPad and a Notion Ink tablet when they come out. I have put up with my heavy laptop bag for on-site visits for too long. I should take a cue from those discerning senior executives who I provide services for.
What do you think? I appreciate the opportunity to learn from your comments..