Every day I get an email from the HP SMB Outlet sales team. Attached to this email is a spreadsheet listing all of the overstock and refurbished products that they have available. Beyond discounted pricing, I’ve had a good experience buying laptops and desktops from this group over the past few years.
Today’s list includes all the usual suspects, with one notable exception; a better than average selection of thin clients. As I’ve written previously, these little thin clients make great platforms for small embedded systems projects, including; Asterisk, Freeswitch, SqueezeServer, etc.
Consider the HP T5565 pictured to the right. Here’s the current offer:
It happens that I have a Passport in my home office at the moment. It was acquired earlier this year in the process of my failed attempt to entice LifeSize to join a VUC call using their video conference bridge. In my office the Passport is connected to a Sony 26” Bravia HDTV via HDMI. The camera connects to the Passport device via a Firewire cable.
The Passport is a small device. It’s small enough to be portable. I’m told that some people carry it around as they travel, using it over hotel broadband. The camera includes a built-in microphone array. The video quality presented is quite good, especially in light of the rather modest cost of the device.
I’ve recently discovered a CBC Radio program called Spark. The CBC is a bone fide national treasure, and Spark is their program on technology in society. They describe it as:
Spark is a weekly audio blog of smart and unexpected trendwatching. It’s not just technology for gearheads, it’s about the way technology affects our lives, and the world around us.
…sounds interesting, non?
I recently loaded my phone with some Spark podcasts in a effort to catch up on the program. I was especially taken by episode 128 from November 2010 which considers the impact of noise on people. From the calming influence of bird song to the stress induced by using a cell phone, it’s profoundly interesting stuff.
Our personal and collective productivity often hinges on the soundscape of the working environment. Your personal stress and anxiety level can also be impacted. To be blunt, noise matters…and yet it’s often completely overlooked.
The OpenPeak product line initially had a significant telephony component. While basically a tablet offer, the line included a DECT/CATiq base and cordless handsets OEM’d from Gigaset. They had a nice looking executive desk phone as well.
I had thought that OpenPeak might be the first to make an impact in the enterprise desk phone space using Android. Or perhaps they would get some traction in the high-end hotel niche? They seemed to be out in front of the pack. Cloud Telecomputers “Glass” product has yet to see an delivery, even after being seen on demo at Astricon 2010.
There still seems to be a lot of interest in DIY Asterisk appliances. Make that DIY PBX appliances in general, because the Freeswitch folks are just as active in this regard. My prior article giving an overview of suitable target platforms continues to be well received, even six months after it was originally published.
One of the host platforms mentioned in that article was the HP range of thin clients. Every day I get an email from the HP SMB Outlet listing the refurbished and overstock offering du jour. In todays list I notice that they include a quantity of 24 HP T5735 thin clients offered for $ 149 each.
These little boxes would make great little DIY embedded PBX systems. Here are the specs:
AMD Sempron 2100+ CPU clocked at 1 GHz
1 GB DDR-2 memory (1 SODIMM)
1 GB internal flash storage
PS/2 mouse & keyboard ports
6 USB 2.0 ports
ATI Radeon X1250 graphics with support for up to 1920 x 1440, or up to 24 bit color depth
10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
These little beasts are fanless and only draw around 18 watts. There is also an expansion chassis available that allows the addition of a riser for one PCI card.
At $149 each these devices are cheaper than a net-top. Granted, they’re not quite as powerful as a new net-top…they’re plenty enough to host a SOHO PBX or small music server.
Selecting hardware appropriate for a particular Asterisk installation has been a topic of discussion ever since the emergence of Asterisk. This typically centers around choosing hardware to handle n users or x concurrent calls. Often the focus is on how to scale up to the greatest number of users for a given server. However, there can be different but related considerations as we consider ever smaller applications.
In various circles I’ve lately witnessed a minor spike in interest in small form factor Asterisk systems. I have found it curious to survey the various hardware platforms that people are considering when creating their own DIY Asterisk Appliances. To establish some perspective on this I recently posted my own history of using Asterisk my own little Asterisk retrospective.
There are quite a range of small computing platforms available to the enthusiast seeking to tinker with Asterisk. It seemed to me that an overview of such hardware and related resources would be helpful.
For my purposes I’ll only consider generic platforms suitable for a DIY project , not the commercially offered embedded Asterisk devices, of which there are many. These small host platforms tend to be in the $50-$300 range which makes them approachable for hobbyists, home users and some small businesses.