Back at CES 2011, Samsung showed us something that may have seemed a bit futuristic back then but which is now reality. They showed us a monitor that connects to your laptop wirelessly and on top of that, the monitor acts as a USB hub and the USB devices connect wirelessly too. Samsung calls this technology Central Station. You simply connect a small USB dongle to your laptop, take the laptop within the monitor’s range and your laptop automatically connects to the monitor and peripherals attached to it, wirelessly. You walk away and the monitor goes black. Pretty simple, right?

Background

During the last few years, laptops have become powerful enough for people to use as their main computer. Sales figures support this too. If we look at for example Apple’s sales figures, twice as many desktops were sold compared to laptops in 2002. However, during the recent years, laptops have stolen a huge portion of the sales of desktops, making the situation the opposite of 2002: laptops now outsell desktops by a two-to-one ratio.

While laptops can now offer performance sufficient for some real work, there is one thing that they cannot offer: screen real estate. Most laptops have around a 15” screen, but resolutions vary a lot depending on the model and price range (1366x768 at the low-end, and up to 1920x1200 in higher-end models). 22-24” monitors with resolutions of 1920x1080 have more or less become the standard for desktops and such monitors can be had for ~150$ nowadays.

Because laptops lack screen real estate, a laptop with a separate monitor at home has become a very common setup. This gives you portability when on the go and a desktop-like setup when at home with extra screen size/resolution. However, this kind of setup has one big setback in that you need to plug in a bunch of cables when you get home to use your external monitor and other peripherals. With a desktop, you just turn the computer on or wake it up from the sleep mode; there's no hassling with cables required. While you could call one lazy if it’s too much to plug in a few cables, you often end up either using the laptop on the desk with the monitor all the time, or you never plug in the monitor and it sits on the desk unused.

Laptop docking stations have offered a solution, but there are several shortcomings. First off, not all laptops have a design suitable for docking (Apple’s laptops come to my mind). Second, each laptop dock is only suitable for certain laptop models, so if you buy a new laptop you most likely have to buy a new laptop dock as well. A new dock will easily set you back at least $100, which is quite a lot for an ugly piece of plastic. Finally, many consumer laptops don't even have suitable docks, which rules out a docking station completely. 

This is where Central Station becomes interesting. You don't need to connect any cables and you don't need an ugly dock. Everything is wireless. 

Features and specifications
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  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Thanks. I will update the article to include that is uses UWB (some other sites confirmed this too). Reply
  • Kyrra1234 - Sunday, June 19, 2011 - link

    It is indeed Ultra Wideband. My friend wrote the USB driver and did some of the firmware work for this device. :) Reply
  • Slayeristight - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    I think a device like this would be most useful for people that use tablets or phones. Make it a touchscreen or allow the use of a keyboard and mouse and you are set. I think it would make tablets extremely useful and even a replacement for a computer. Reply
  • XZerg - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    If Samsung releases this for the TVs instead would be perfect. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    no thanks! Reply
  • noeldillabough - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    I was thinking that Thunderbolt could be added to all laptops and have docks that take a single cable, I can handle plugging a single cable into my machine, especially if the same dock could be used on multiple laptops. Reply
  • BugblatterIII - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Google for the Toshiba dynadock wireless U.

    I have the wired version and it works very well. Unfortunately the wireless version doesn't go up to 1920x1200, which rules it out for me, but the basic idea is great. It's a shame it never really went mainstream; they might have taken it further.
    Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    $450 for a 23 inch HD-Monitor? I'm sick of these HD monitors... I'm glad I got one of the last 1920x1200 screens, I DON'T like these narrow monitors we have today, especially for notebooks! My next notebook upgrade is going to suck.

    There is SHOULD be high-res 27~28" in displays hitting 2500x1600. That is what I want to upgrade to, but in the 27~28" size.

    Such high price for a 23" screen, might as well buy the $100~150 dock and plug them into whatever monitor you want. Obviously, the issues have been pointed out (many notebooks don't have docking ports and even upgrading a notebook usually means a new docking bay)

    ThinkPad's Docking bay is about $120. It includes: dual DVI output (for DUAL monitor display) in up to 1920x1200 each. 4 USB ports, PS/2 key/mouse ports, wired Ethernet port. From the docking unit, you can of course, add wireless keyboard and mouse. Such a combo is easily cheaper than this Samsung product.
    Reply
  • hucklongfin - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    I like the concept. Just don't build it into the monitor. If it was a box you attach a monitor to it'd be great. That way I could use it with any monitor and be good to go... add VGA/DVI/HDMI/Thunderbolt ports to cover all the bases. I just don't want to (and wouldn't) buy their monitor as part of the package. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    This^ I think for this to go much anywhere the laptop side has to be integrated on a lot of laptops (like Bluetooth is now) and the desk side should be a box that the monitor and peripherals plug into. Pair that with inductive charging for the laptop and no wires would be required no matter how long the use and you could choose whatever display is suitable Reply

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