Lenovo to bring UWB laptops to Europe next year

The manufacturer will launch ultrawideband-toting notebooks — probably using Wireless USB — in the EMEA region in the first quarter of 2009

Lenovo will for the first time bring ultrawideband-enabled laptops to Europe in the first quarter of next year, the company has told ZDNet.co.uk.

The manufacturer has previously brought out notebooks — last year's T61 and T61p machines — that use ultrawideband (UWB), but not in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region. That will change early next year, Lenovo said on Wednesday.

"Lenovo is progressing to get UWB added to selected notebooks shipping to EMEA in 1Q2009," read a statement from the manufacturer. Lenovo would not say exactly which models will use UWB.

Another thing that remains unconfirmed is which UWB-derived technology will be in the Lenovo notebooks. However, it is likely that the machines will include Certified Wireless USB (WUSB), as that is what was used in last year's T61/T61p notebooks. UWB is also the basis for the next generation of Bluetooth, but that updated technology is still in the testing phase.

UWB was only legalised in the European Union at the start of 2007 — a likely reason why it was left out of last year's Lenovo models.

As its name suggests, the technology uses a wide band of spectrum to provide high-bandwidth wireless connectivity over a much shorter range than that achieved by, for example, Wi-Fi. Because it is low-powered and can intelligently select the best frequency to use at any given time, UWB is good at avoiding interference from other wireless sources — a problem that Wi-Fi suffers with items such as microwave ovens — as well as avoiding interfering with other wireless connections.

Backers of WUSB hope the technology will, over time, successfully replace the current, wired USB standard. However, there are only around a dozen PC models in the world that currently offer WUSB capability, so mass-market adoption has not yet begun.

ZDNet.co.uk asked the five big PC manufacturers — Dell, HP, Acer, Lenovo and Asus — about their plans for including WUSB or similar technologies in their machines, but only Lenovo was willing to reveal any such plan. The others refused to comment.