Toshiba Corp. on Wednesday announced that it has started selling the first laptops with a new high-speed technology that allow them to connect wirelessly to a docking station that can support an external monitor.
It's one of the first consumer applications of ultra-wideband, or UWB, wireless technology, which allows data transfer speeds far faster than previous wireless technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Using those technologies to relay video to an external monitor is difficult.
However, UWB has limited range — the Toshiba laptops have to be within 3 feet of the docking station. Also, current UWB chips use radio frequencies that are legal in the U.S. but not in most of the world.
The laptops are part of the business-oriented R400 line. They start at $3,079 and double as Tablet PCs, which allow the user to write on the screen with a stylus.
The docking station, or port replicator, costs $500. Apart from the monitor port, it includes four USB ports, an audio port and an Ethernet port. Comparable non-wireless docking stations from Toshiba cost $180.
The laptops and docking station will be sold directly be Toshiba and by its distribution partners but won't be in stores.
The UWB chips in the laptops and the docking station are designed by venture-funded WiQuest Communications Inc. of Allen, Texas.