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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  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    $600 for a 1920x1080 27" monitor??

    First of all, I'm not buying anyone's 27" monitor for any price with truck-sized pixels. Second, you can buy a GOOD 27" monitor for $225-250 more with a 2560x1440 screen and decent pixel pitch (excellent by today's standards). I paid $825 for the Dell U2711 by waiting for the right time to buy it. From Dell. There are other good manufacturer options that sell in that price range - and in the U.K. and I believe the rest of Europe, Hazro offers the 2560x1440 27" at around the $600 price (we just can't get them in the U.S.).

    I'm not sure what the big deal is about connecting wireless anyway. I mean, my Mom's $400 laptop came with a VGA connector on the back - don't most laptops provide a connector for another monitor? No limitation in bandwidth or degradation in signal - really, what's the point of these things again?
    Reply
  • hucklongfin - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    No wires is the point. You go to your desk with your laptop and just use the KVM there without attaching anything. When you want to go mobile just grab the laptop and go. As is, I attach my monitor with an HDMI cable, plug in the speakers and the power. Not that big a deal especially since I switched to a wireless mouse and keyboard. Reply
  • HMTK - Friday, June 17, 2011 - link

    Crappy resolution: I hate 16:9. That's nice for TV but useless for work. Actually I don't like 16:10 either. 4:3 is far superior but along the way some fucking idiots decided to use widescreen panels on business laptops

    It also needs drivers. Docking stations normally don't (except the crappy USB "docks"). I'd prefer an industry standard connector for video/sound/USB/Firewire/whatever and even power to the monitor. Just 2 cables to plug in on the laptop: power and monitor. And NO drivers. For home use this seems nice, for serious business use less so.
    Reply
  • Anon_12345 - Friday, June 17, 2011 - link

    http://www.alereon.com/

    This product uses UWB technology from this company Alereon, they even link to this article on their homepage. They also have some other cool products for wireless HDMI linking and the like, very cool company.
    Reply
  • StormyParis - Friday, June 17, 2011 - link

    hopefully we'll get a generic version not bundled with a monitor, too. Reply
  • Conficio - Sunday, June 19, 2011 - link

    In my eyes this is wasted money:
    * No open standard, so it only works between Samsung equipment. Well, its an USB dongle, but still...
    * USB dongle, that means it also steals a USB port. So the limited number of ports laptps have these days are reduced.
    * it connects USB, but USB devices need to be ejected in order to disconnect properly. So just walking away is not an option.
    * While many laptops these days dow hold power for a long time. when I'm at my desk I really would liek to charge them at the same time. So now I still have to plugin and unplug a cable.
    * The number of USB ports is actually rather low. If I plug in a simple keyboard, a mouse, and a CD drive, what is left? You mean a dockign station just for the screen? Ha, ha, ha, if I dock I want a better keyboard and a mouse. That's me.
    * If this central station also would contain a backup and storage server, which also woudl be accessible over the Wired ethernet port and wifi, we might be talking.

    Also many questions:
    * Is the USB dongle included in the Monitor purchase? If not what is its price?
    * Multiple laptops? All off a suden my colleague comes over with his Samsung enabled laptop does it interfear with my conection?
    * Can I use my colleagues screen to demo something from my laptop? Is there some on screen menu to choose from teh multipel laptops in the receiving range?
    * Are there extender stations for the receiving antennae and projectors (or large TV screens) available? Conference room use, where I want to decide which laptop does project.
    Reply
  • roycecrazy - Tuesday, June 21, 2011 - link

    It's perfect for business use. I've already got the Samsung Series 9 at work, and with this I'll have a dream setup. A nice looking, ultraportable laptop with great specs, and a superslick wireless docking solution for my office.

    I can't really see anyone challenging the combo of the Samsung Central station and the Samsung Series 9 laptop for business use.
    Reply
  • HN55 - Friday, June 24, 2011 - link

    I have a Series 9 and just got the Central Station. Can't seem to make the 9 talk to the CS via WiDi. And, the CS USB dongle is too small to fit into the 9's recessed USB ports.

    If you figure out how to attach via WiDi, I'd appreciate hearing how you did it.
    Reply
  • roycecrazy - Monday, July 04, 2011 - link

    This comment is from CNET:

    "Samsung support tells me that the Series 9 will NOT connect to the CS without the dongle. The realize (now) that the dongle will not fit into the S9, so they are providing a new dongle. Just call Samsung support with the serial numbers of your S9 and CS.
    Does seem a bit strange that Samsung's two newest products can't connect wirelessly without an extra dongle."

    I'd like to get Kristian Vättö to comment on this. He claims in this article that:

    "Update: As noted in the comments, Samsung uses UWB
    (Ultra-wideband) for wireless connection. It's the most suitable for
    small range connections which explains Central Station's 5 feet range.
    Some laptops even have UWB built-in (e.g. Samsung 9 Series) so they can
    connect to Central Station without the USB dongle."

    I will call Samsung and have them send me a new Dongle, but I'd still like to be able to connect without the dongle.
    Reply
  • katepop79 - Friday, January 27, 2012 - link

    I do NOT recommend buying a Samsung Central Station monitor - after spending nearly $400 more vs regular monitors for wireless connectivity and docking, it is full of bugs. It has tremendous trouble sensing my laptop at all (despite being 3 inches away) and constantly shuts itself off or doesn't sense the laptop at all. Samsung customer service told me that's because it works best when NOT plugged into a surge protector! Best Buy Geek Squad told me they would never NOT plug office equipment into surge protector. It's too late to return this monitor and honestly I wasted so much money on it. VERY DISSATISFIED and samsung said there is nothing they can do to help. I was pretty apauled that they are aware of these flaws and do not clearly label that on the product or make their retail partners aware. That's the last time I buy anything that Samsung makes. Reply

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