When the review unit of the Central Station CA750X
arrived from Samsung Canada Inc., I was a little stunned. I was prepared to review a wireless laptop dock; I must have missed the part about it being a 27-inch wireless laptop dock.
Given its size, the Central Station actually cuts a fairly low profile. It is usable on a desktop, though it’s a little overkill at six inches away. The 1080p picture is crisp, bright and nicely defined, though the jaggies really show with standard definition video.
Your laptop is mated to the docking station with a Wireless USB dongle. Wireless USB is built on the ultrawide band radio platform (UWB – remember that?). The dock, in turn, serves as the wireless connection for the laptop to four USB 3.0 ports, a USB Ethernet port and headphones or speakers. (The laptop can also be connected with a D-SUB or HDMI-DVI cable, but audio isn’t supported and, besides, that’s kind of missing the point, isn’t it?)
As you can imagine with such a high bandwidth signal (wireless USB is capable of transmitting at 480 megabits per second within three metres), there’s a fair of latency in the mouse signal, more something the user can feel than see.
Some quibbles: Given the shape of the hinged stand and base, it would have been convenient to have more accessible connections on the front of the base. If it’s desktop-mounted, you have to reach around or under the screen, or turn the unit sideways, to get at them. When adjusting the angle of the monitor, you have to brace the base, the location of several touch-sensitive controls. And the base-stand combo is a little wobbly and doesn’t inspire much confidence. (To be fair, that probably contributes to its svelte 5.2-kilo weigh-in.)
The monitor’s power consumption drops to 3 watts from 48 when the machines are disconnected, but the USB dongle that transmits to the dock seems to be a bit of a power hog; when I’d accidentally unplugged my laptop, the batteries were sucked nearly dry in a couple of hours.
All said, though, there’s plenty of realistic use cases. It’s oriented at the mobile worker – simply bring the laptop within range and the two machines connect – and would work well in a hotelling setup, where mobile employees don’t have offices and simply use an available work station.
It cleaned up a rat’s nest of stray cables on my desk, and I don’t know how I’m going to go back to that 15-inch I’ve been using as a second monitor.
The Central Station is also available in a 23-inch version.