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HP Netstations speak Java

HP ships Java-capable network computers, drawing on its experience in building terminals for Unix computers.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) has begun shipping Java-capable network computers, drawing on its experience in building terminals for Unix computers.

The Hewlett-Packard Netstations can replace older "dumb terminal" devices, offering better performance and better graphics capability. The expected "street" price of the Entria II and Envinex II Netstations start as low as $700 without a display, according to HP. Dumb terminals are stripped-down computers often used by workers who perform repetitive tasks such as order-entry.

The Netstations can run Unix, Windows NT, and older mainframe-based "legacy" software, the company said.

HP Netstations also will support Internet-intranet-based collaboration and communication through "Navio Navigator for netstations," based on Netscape Navigator 3.0, providing Web access with full Java support.

Currently, HP Netstations support server-based Internet browsers and Java Virtual Machine (VM). By fall 1997, the next release of HP Netstation software is slated to support Navio Navigator for Netstations and local Java VM. The local Java VM technology will allow users to download and execute Java-based applications and applets.

HP says its network computers will cost less to maintain since they are designed to access server-computer-based applications and allow for "thinner" clients and centralized administration. "Alternatively, Sun Microsystems JavaStation relies exclusively on local Java processing, which requires greater local resources and thereby undermines the benefits of thin clients," according to HP.

NCs, such as Sun's JavaStation, are loosely defined as computers that are connected to and rely on a server computer to store and distribute software applications. NCs may also rely on the server to run applications.

"Organizations are looking to upgrade their existing text terminals to graphics desktops that will provide [better ] performance while maintaining the same control and simplified administration they enjoyed with text terminals," HP said.

Users of HP's "X terminal" systems are also demanding greater Internet and Java capability to leverage Internet-intranet resources, the company said. X terminals are similar to NCs in many respects and are considered one of the forerunners to network computers.

NT support is provided via Insignia's Ntrigue software. Ntrigue is a Windows NT application server solution.

The HP Entria II runs at 120 MHz, while the HP Envizex II runs at 133 MHz. HP Netstation software includes a suite of local clients, such as window managers, terminal emulators, and utility applications. Other features include HP Netstation software CDE 2.0, which provides local access to the Common Desktop Environment standard window manager. All the host-based functionality of CDE is preserved, while host memory and host computing power is offloaded.