What You Should Look for in a Terminal Emulator

Choosing a terminal emulator is no easy task. Initially the choice of solution will depend on the type of host you need to access, but beyond that there are many options available with widely varying price tags and features. We would, of course, recommend Turbosofts range of terminal emulation software, but then we might just be a little biased. If you're in the market for an emulator here a few things to consider.

Is it accurate?

The first and most critical issue when choosing a terminal emulator is how accurate its emulation is. After all, this is its primary function. If possible, the best way to gauge this is to trial a number of terminal emulators on a live host system. Differences and deficiencies will quickly become apparent.

Common terminals like the DEC VT100 are well documented and a huge range of options exist for this particular terminal, including commercial, open source and freeware options. If you have a basic requirement or a one off task like router configuration, you may be able get by with any of these or perhaps consider a free, fully functional demo version of TTWin 4 (Download).

On the other hand if you plan to use an emulator on a daily basis or have a requirement for a specialist terminal such as the IBM 3270, IBM 5250, Stratus V102 or Unisys T27, you'll quickly find many emulators have incomplete or inaccurate implementations. Poor implementations will quickly frustrate you and prevent host software from displaying and functioning as intended. If the task your terminal emulator will perform is important to your business, it's worth investing in quality software.

Our own emulations have been developed over 20 years, and tested in real world scenarios and in environments where terminal emulation accuracy and reliability are critical. We strive to emulate the function of the original terminal entirely and our emulations are identical across all our products, from iPads, phone and handhelds through to desktops.

Is it current and maintained?

Last month marked the official end of product life for Windows XP®. Microsoft is no longer issuing updates or security patches for this operating system. As such, many users have been migrating to Windows 7® or Windows 8® to avoid security risks associated with running an obsolete OS and to make sure their systems are supported going forward. Some have found that after migration their existing software products are incompatible with the newer versions of Windows. It's important to be sure the terminal emulator you choose will work with modern operating systems. TTWin 4 is certified for Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Even if Windows XP is not a consideration, it's worth noting that network and desktop environments are changing and that your software should be designed to cater for these changes. This, of course, is relevant to any software purchase, not just terminal emulation. For example, 64 bit computing is the now the norm and IPv6 adoption is continuing to gather pace. Make sure your terminal emulator supports both.

How is it licensed?

The license type you need will depend on your circumstances. For a single user, every vendor will have a solution. When purchasing for multiple users, for concurrent use (such as through Citrix or virtual desktops) or for a site wide license, different vendors will offer different options.

Turbosoft takes a flexible approach and caters to individual licenses, concurrent environments, subscription licensing as well as unlimited or site wide licenses. We also offer discounts for educational or non-profit organizations and cross-grade discounts on recognized competitive products. You can read more about our options here. (Blog post: Licensing Turbosoft Products - a flexible approach.)

Is it safe, secure & supported?

Typically, host systems run extremely important and sensitive applications for organizations. While free or open source software is attractive in terms of price, can you be sure that there is no malicious code or security vulnerability in the free or low cost software that you are considering? If the source is available, are you relying on others to vet it for you?

With IT changing at a rapid pace, having supported products to deal with the changes is also something to consider. Your IT environment will change and it’s important to be sure that the link to your host software, your terminal emulator, can adapt to the changes.

Free demo version. No obligations, no limitations.

Ultimately the best way to test a terminal emulator is to try it. We offer a free and fully functional, no obligation 30 day demo of TTWin. Click here to download.

The latest version of TTWin offers the highest levels of quality, accuracy and reliability, as well as new features and additions to ensure your terminal emulation software remains relevant and compatible with modern desktop and network environments. TTWin 4 is a feature-rich product that supports over 80 different types of terminals and numerous communications protocols. You can find out more about the specification of TTWin on our website at www.ttwin.com/products_ttwin.

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