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Review: Dell WYSE delivers Android-on-a-stick

Joel Snyder | May 20, 2014
Thin clients aren't very exciting, and for a reason: they're designed to allow remote access to servers, usually with a Citrix, Microsoft, or VMware client. The folks at Dell WYSE have spiced up the category by building a thin client on top of Android, and getting it down to a form factor only slightly larger than a USB memory stick.

Thus, we weren't able to grab either the Juniper or Cisco VPN client for our testing, because the Google Play Store wouldn't allow us to download them, claiming they were incompatible with our device. (Dell's own SonicWALL client and Check Point's VPN client both were available).

Having only a limited set of applications available greatly restricted our testing and the overall flexibility of the WYSE Cloud Connect — at least until Dell figures out how to resolve this issue. They told us they were working with Google as well as some application developers. For now, if you want a full Android tablet to connect to a big monitor, WYSE Cloud Connect isn't that device. 

Remote Terminals... it works. What else?

We started our testing using both Citrix and Windows Terminal Services (RDP) through the built-in clients provided by Dell. General visual performance was snappy in Citrix-land, with no real discernable difference between the WYSE Cloud Connect and a desktop PC. With Windows Terminal Services using the included Pocket Cloud RDP client, the WYSE Cloud Connect offered just a tiny bit of visual performance lag, not enough to be really annoying, but certainly noticeable at moments. Of course, some of that could be the application and perhaps a different RDP client would work better.

With a good three-button mouse and keyboard, there's not a lot to say about using the WYSE Cloud Connect as a remote terminal. Functionally, the thin client offered what we'd have expected, although we learned very quickly not to use CTRL-ALT-Delete at any time — which causes an immediate reboot of the WYSE Cloud Connect. The usual thin client restrictions, such as local storage and printing, apply here. WYSE Cloud Connect does include audio output capabilities that tested out just fine. 

We didn't test the VMware VDI client, also included with WYSE Cloud Connect. 

With basic functionality out of the way, we looked at web-based applications. WYSE Cloud Connect comes with Google Chrome browser, and the standard Android "Browser" browser. We ran into some issues fairly quickly. While Google Docs worked very well, we were unable to make SSL connections with some other cloud-based web applications. The reason? Some cloud-based web applications have fairly old SSL configurations. Combine that with security zealotry on the part of the Android developers that blocks older encryption algorithms, and you have an interoperability failure. Of course, this is more of an Android issue than a WYSE Cloud Connect issue, but to an end-user trying to connect to an existing web application, it doesn't matter. 

We also signed up for Microsoft Office 365, but found that Microsoft won't support the WYSE Cloud Connect. We were able to view documents, but couldn't run the Office 365 applications in either of the delivered browsers.

 

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