We would like to replace a group of about 50 laptops that are sometimes only loaned for trips and meetings sometimes issued to employees long-term with something else that will be lower maintenance and easier to use.
The devices will be only be used to remote control their desktop workstations either to work from home or while traveling or in a conference room in the office where they would hook it up to a projector to give presentations.
So, the device must have RDP capability, VPN capability, ability to be configured to connect to 802.1x wifi and be able to connect to any projector that uses a standard VGA connection.
Options are a standard Windows 7 or Windows 8 laptop heavily locked down to not do anything other than allow the user to log on, use a locked down version of IE (so they can access login pages to wireless hotspots on the road), use the VPN client and the remote desktop client. This would still require dealing with antivirus, Windows Updates and encryption software.,
We would not be getting low-end plastic consumer-grade laptops since we need them to have very solid build quality with metal cases to last at least 5 years and we also need Windows Pro versions, not "Home" versions of Windows. So, these laptops would likely cost $1000 or more each.
If they were locked down the point that users could not download any files, save anything locally or run scripts, Java, Flash or ActiveX, maybe we would not need to have antivirus, encryption or Windows Updates. With that setup, they would not even be able to use WebEx or GotoMeeting in the browser and would need to remote into their desktops even for that.
Another option would be to buy iPads with some kind of Mobile Device Management solution, keyboard clamshell cases and VGA dongles for presentations. Not sure if this would be easier or harder for both users and IT staff to deal with, but there would be no need for antivirus or third party encryption. The remote desktop apps I tried were difficult to use and required too much scrolling around due to the iPads low resolution compared to the resolution on the workstation screen.
Next option is something like a Microsoft Surface RT table with attached Type Cover keyboard. I believe these come with native encryption. Not sure if that would need antivirus. I also don;t know if there is any way to manage those to make sure the users do not use them for more than the intended purpose and end up with spyware, viruses and losing the devices with company data saved on the local storage.
We could also wait for Surface Pro, but I don't know why we would need the full x86 version of Windows 8 if we only need RDP access unless the RT version is not manageable by IT.
What are the best choices from above?
Chromebooks are not an option since that requires our employees to login with Google accounts and they would be saving info on Google's servers.
Is there a purpose-built laptop-like "thin-client" with keyboard and external VGA capabilty that lets the users use VPN and use remote desktop with ease and also has external video out to projectors, yet also not allow installing or saving anything on the device?