Philips SmartManage review

£1100
Price when reviewed

Monitors can be one of the biggest culprits for wasting energy, and yet they’re the most difficult components on a network to manage and control. As part of the ongoing PC Pro Switch IT Off campaign to show ways of reducing power consumption, we take a look at the first piece of software for centrally managing monitors on a network.

Philips SmartManage review

Philips’ SmartManage provides administrators with the tools to control and track its range of Business Line LCD monitors. It supports any nVidia or ATi graphics card and allows you to gather a complete picture of the monitors currently installed on each desktop, implement security controls to stop them being stolen and control power settings from a single console. Philips owns the software, but it’s been developed by Altiris, so you’ll need to get to grips with the latter’s network administration software suite. Philips advised us that the primary reason for taking this path is that Dell, HP and Fujitsu Siemens already use Altiris components in their PC management suites, so SmartManage integrates seamlessly into their respective systems.

The package comes complete with Altiris’ Notification Server (NS) 6 and the SmartManage plug-in. Installation doesn’t take long, as all required components are automatically loaded if not present. The next task is to deploy the NS client to each workstation, and you can use the NS administration console to push the software out to selected systems or allow them to pull it in from a pre-prepared web page. Next comes the SmartManage client, which can be swiftly deployed to all workstations using packages from the NS console.

The first job the client does is to take an inventory of supported monitors and send it to the NS database. This contains fields such as the model type, serial number, purchase date and asset number, and each can be manually modified. Reporting tools are extensive: you’re able to list monitors by any of the above fields and use criteria such as running time, size and even resolution. Tasks are used to create collections of selected monitor types and display them ready for administrative actions. Multiple selections may be made, and pressing a single button on the toolbar will power them all off or on. It’s also possible to send messages to selected monitors and put them all back to factory defaults with a single mouse click.

The security feature is a neat anti-theft device, as it effectively renders the monitor useless to the miscreant. You can activate this on all or just selected monitors, and it will cause the SmartManage console to start polling each one every six minutes. The console expects a response, so if the monitor is removed it will advise that the device has gone offline. The smartest feature is that the monitor also needs the polling signal to continue functioning. If it doesn’t receive this, it will simply keep powering itself off every six minutes.

Philips’ SmartControl local interface isn’t supplied with this package, as it’s considered unnecessary for users to have this tool on their desktop in a business environment.

Despite the plethora of desktop management products on the market, monitors have been neglected for too long. Philips remedies this with a simple but effective utility that provides valuable administrative and remote management tools for its LCD monitors.

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