Of all of the important electronic gizmos in our life that we use every day most have gone wireless – with the exception of the desktop monitor. Our phones are wireless, our laptops are wireless, and recently higher-end HDTVs have added wireless capabilities for accessing Netflix and select internet sites. Now, with the shipment of the Samsung Central Station at Best Buy a few weeks ago, users have the opportunity to enjoy the inherent convenience of a wireless connection between their laptop and their LED monitor.
For those unfamiliar with the Central Station (4.4 stars out of 5.0 on Best Buy as of this writing), it is an ultra-bright 23” or 27” 1920 x 1080P LED monitor with a built in USB docking station in the base of the unit that supports audio in/out, many USB ports and an Ethernet port out the back. The unit also accepts both HDMI and VGA inputs if the user prefers not to use the wireless feature. The wireless feature itself is provided by a very small (<1”) dongle that plugs into the users laptop or PC. The dongle is small enough to be left in the laptop all the time; even when the laptop is closed.
The beauty is that the user doesn’t need to plug and unplug a bunch of cables into their laptop every time they come in and out of their office or study – nor do you need to buy an expensive clunky (and proprietary) docking station. Setup is easy. One pushbutton on the base tells the monitor to enable wireless connectivity, one mouse click, and you are connected. From then on, walk into the office, and zing – the monitor wirelessly connects using a 7GHz UWB link that is immune to interference from Wi-Fi. Walk out of the office, and the wireless link disconnects and the monitor goes dark. It’s that simple.
I purchased my unit for $349.00 a few weeks ago and really like it. I find myself taking my laptop to more meetings because the docking and undocking is so simple. I may get one for my home as well – so that everyone in the house can use their laptop with one central big screen monitor with all of the peripherals neatly plugged into the base of the monitor. Even though the link between the laptop and the monitor is wireless there is no latency, and I don’t get video glitches or pauses with videos like I do with WiFi on my HDTV. Since the wireless monitor operates in frequencies above those used for WiFi I don’t get any interference (or performance impact) from the multiple WiFi access points around me. My IT Manager is happy as well since my wireless monitor (and those of others) is not stepping all over the corporate WiFi network. The UWB link provides for a true wireless cable replacement that is as good as my old VGA cable used to be – but a lot more convenient.
The Samsung Central Station certainly brings us much closer to Life without Wires™ and as the market leader and innovator in desktop monitors it seems certain others will follow Samsung’s lead over the coming year. Time will tell.
By Eric Broockman, Alereon (www.alereon.com)