'PC killer' Pano cube reaches UK

Will cloud computing see the end of the PC?

In the age of cloud computing what will replace the desktop PC? One U.K. reseller thinks it has found the answer in an innocuous silver cube with the footprint of a CD case.

It's called the 'Pano', or 'Pano Virtual desktop' to use its full title, and is hailed by the company bringing it to the U.K. for the first time, Nebulas Solutions, as the industry's first "zero client".

The creation of US startup, Pano Logic, the device has no operating system or drivers, no CPU, no memory, no hard disk, and no graphics chip. The computer, if it can be called that, consists only of the interfaces to connect a mouse, keyboard and monitor, and external USB drive.

The Pano hooks into VMware - support for Microsoft and Citrix are talked of for the future - using a proprietary protocol, on top of which it runs Windows management software and client configuration utilities that are the company's crown jewels.

As well as offering central security such as USB port control and encrypted communication between server and the Pano device using 128-bit AES, it also has a undeniably green feature of using only a few watts of electricity. Even at rest, the average PC will eat many times this figure.

According to Nebulas's managing director Nick Garlick, the Pano is no reprise of the green screens hooked dumbly to mainframes of the past or even today's thin clients.

"They [thin clients] have limitations on the apps they can publish. It is OK, but only for a certain set of apps," said Garlick. "Now we can stream apps [using the Pano], we can handle anything."

The company had been assessing the device and software for some months, but only decided to launch it officially once Pano had recently launched version 2.5 of its management console. This upgrade meant that the system could now provide an application experience indistinguishable from running the same software locally on a conventional PC.

"The Pano and virtualisation technology will revolutionise the desktop. Given the overwhelming advantages in terms of power, cost and management savings, it's difficult to see why organisations wouldn't want to implement it," said Garlick.

There seems little doubt in the minds of most commentators that desktop virtualisation will slowly strangle the life out of the beige office PC in its current form, though laptops - currently a significant chunk of the PC market - will probably be immune to this trend. If devices such as the Pano mark the beginning of this new age, the key test will be performance, security and management.

Virtualisation will probably not lower security costs, but it will rationalise them into a more predictable form, while virtualised desktop installations will undoubtedly be able to function using smaller IT departments. In the short term, performance is more of an open issue, though Garlick is confident that this hurdle has already been leapt with better software capable of handling even the demands of tough, latency-sensitive applications such as video.

The device is currently undergoing trials in a number of U.K. companies, but is available at a cost of £268 ($399) per machine, plus an annual support fee of £54 ($80) each, excluding licensing costs for VMware and Windows, and any applications being used.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John E. Dunn

Techworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?