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Windows Desktop Virtualisation Using an Android Client

[Update June 2013 - Amongst quite a range of products with perplexing names like "streaming clients", a new Android 4.2 box has appeared which looks like a very promising candidate to be the little box on your desk which gives you access to your legacy Windows desktop and displays the output on a respectable HDMI monitor.

It own obscure name is the "Matricom G-Box Midnight MX2"

Plus, it has the whole range of Google Play Store goodies including the specialised TV and movie app - XBMC.

Perfect for the home-office, 2014, then?

Well we've got one on order to check it out and see for sure... ]

Why should you virtualise?

You have an old PC whirring away under the desk. Over the years its accumulated so many important bits a and pieces - from work and home... They're all in there somewhere. You find yourself strangely unwilling to upgrade the old Windows operating system in case something gets lost, or in case the hardware couldn't stand it... But now the PC itself must be getting on a bit - weird messages are starting to appear when it's turned on. There might even be worrying noises.!

Well one option is to virtualise the whole thing. You can

  • Keep the old PC as your backup, as well as a complete copy of the Virtuasl Machine (VM) on a disk.
  • Transfer its soul - and all your valuable stuff - onto what is effectively a single application which will run on a newer machine.
  • The new machine might be right there next to the old one, or off in the Cloud.
  • Either way, you will manage to decouple all that's valuable about your old PC away from all that's dodgy about its old hardware.
  • And at the same time you might well manage to save a significant chunk from your electric bill, too.

Progress in 2012

The truth is that last year's crop of tablets (including the iPad), weren't quite up to the job of accessing a New Ipad with keyboard coverVirtual Machine (VM).

Restrictions on screen resolution and bandwidth meant that in practice, it was quite hard to access the virtual environment to do productive work, except in an emergency.

This year, things are changing fast. The new iPad, used together with a sexy keyboard like this one from Logitech offers a much more businesslike and elegant-looking setup for accessing software that might in truth be quite ancient. Just right for a one-on-one client meeting or presentation.

Some of the new Android slates, too, offer improved screen resolution and more stable client apps for accessing a VM.

At the same time, the reliability and speed of Wi-Fi in hotels and coffee shops are improving all the time - and 4G networks are just around the corner. (Remember, though, that the new iPad is not currently equipped to work with the first 4G that will be appearing in the UK.

Best Slates for the Job

Asus Transformer Infinity

Offers you a pretty solid and usable keyboard dock, which also carries a very handy extra battery. This new model comes with a screen resolution of 1920 × 1200, which is enough for most applications.

See more details here.

New Apple iPad

Gives you super-high resolution of 2048 x 1536 - almost certainly more than you need, and quite likely more than your eyes can cope with especially since it has a slightly smaller screen compared with the Infinity. However, you do get Apple's fabulous support and the wider selection of apps in the iTunes store.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

This new product has a lower resolution of 1280 x 800 - which is probably just enough, but it does comes with a handy S-pen stylus and a side-by-side feature that allows you to see  two apps at once, and even copy data between them. There are only a few apps that will do this trick so far, and the Virtual Client for viewing your old PC environment is not on the list, but the feature is still valuable for business use.

Asus Transformer TF101 or TF300 series.

These are last year's model from Asus and this year's slightly cheaper option. They're probably available more cheaply than the others and their screen resolution of 1280 x 800 will do the job. Like the Infinity, both these models come with the business-friendly keyboard dock.

Samsung Galaxy Tab as Virtual ClientEarly Trials

Here's the original Samsung Galaxy Tab being used to access a Virtual Windows environment. The setup was not perfect and the screen display was pixillated, but even with this arrangement, there were significant energy savings compared with sustaining an old PC which can cost more than £100 a year in electricity alone.

This small and fairly low resolution device (A Samsung Galaxy Tab), had realistically to be used with a slave monitor screen under most circumstances.

The Tab and screen together are consuming only 18W compared with over a 100W for some of the sadder old desktop machines.



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