|At a Glance|
|Product||LG N2311AZ-BF 23" Cloud Monitor [Web site]|
|Summary||PC-over-IP monitor for VMware environments|
|Pros||• Improved desktop security
• Reduced use of desk space and power
• IT operational efficiency
• Can also be used as a regular monitor
|Cons||• Poor documentation. Manual out of date and lacks examples
• Wired only, no wireless option
In this review I'm going to look at LG's 23" Cloud Monitor (N2311AZ-BF). This monitor is a 23” display with a built in PC-over-IP (PCoIP) chip that enables connection to a networked computer to provide the full functionality of a desktop computer without the CPU, hard drive, memory and other components typical of a PC.
To better understand this product, let's start with a discussion of the technology built into the Cloud Monitor. LG has built this monitor leveraging technology from a company called Teradici, as well as software from VMware.
Teradici provides the internal hardware with its Zero Client chipset. The PCoIP chip runs VMware View software that enables the Cloud Monitor to connect to a remote PC, typically a Virtual Machine (VM). All you need at your desk is the Cloud Monitor, an Ethernet connection, power and a USB keyboard and mouse. The neat thing is the end user can still have the same computing experience as obtained from a dedicated PC.
As shown in the picture below from Teradici's website, the combination of this technology enables the rendering solution to sit in a data center or in the cloud, with only the images transmitted to the Zero Client device at the desktop.
How Zero Client works
There are numerous values to this solution. Without a computer tower or enclosure, more physical work space is available at an employee's desk. Noise from computer fans are eliminated and heat and power consumption at the desktop are also greatly reduced. Device management and security is enhanced by centralizing computing power and putting the operating system, data storage and software completely in the control of the IT department. PC administration is now simpler, too.
There are other ways to use the Cloud Monitor without a VM, which I'll touch on in this review. But the greatest efficiency is gained when it is used with VMware View software connecting to a VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environment. A discussion on VMware is beyond the scope of this review. But take a look at this series of articles for some basics of virtualization.
I'll start by covering the physical monitor. When used in PCoIP mode, processing power in the Cloud Monitor comes from the Teradici chipset. Teradici has several chipsets available in its Zero Client PCoIP product line. The chipset in the N2311AZ-BF uses the Tera1100 processor. Features of this processor are:
- Two independent display output channels.
- 10/100/1000 Ethernet media access controller.
- High definition audio serial link.
- Four USB ports with device authorization.
- Peripheral management interface.
- Full encryption between host and portal.
An obvious advantage for a Cloud Monitor is lower power consumption than a full desktop computer that typically has a 200W or greater power supply. LG's specifications state the N2311AZ uses between 25 and 40W. The N2311AZ comes with an external power brick, but can also be powered by an optional 60W UPoE adapter.
The N2311AZ measures 23” diagonally with a 16:9 aspect ratio and maximum resolution of 1920x1080. LG touts the N2311AZ's In Plane Switching (IPS) capability, which makes the monitor easier to see from wide angles. The monitor has a pair of built in speakers for audio playback, too.
The monitor has ports on the bottom and left side of the panel. The ports on the bottom, shown below, include D-sub in and out ports, a DVI out port, two USB 2.0 ports, a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, and the power port.
Monitor bottom ports
Dual screen display with the LG is supported when in PCoIP mode. Using the D-sub out port, the image on the LG can be mirrored to another monitor. Using the DVI-out port, you get a true dual screen display when connected to your VM or other remote machine.
The N2311AZ does not have wireless network connectivity, so requires an Ethernet connection. I've used VMware View software from my laptop remotely over a wireless connection, so I was surprised to see Teradici's Zero Client chipsets don't include wireless functionality.
The ports on the left side of the monitor, shown below, include two more USB 2.0 ports as well as audio out and mic in ports.