Wireless docking: How to kick-start the Windows 8 tablet into overdrive

Imagine walking into your office and taking your Windows 8 tablet out of the bag. This single action automatically connects the tablet to the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. It's time for wireless docking to go mainstream.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
Dell wireless dock
Dell Latitude Z wireless dock, circa 2009 -- Image credit: CNET

Imagine walking into the office, taking the little tablet out of the bag, and setting it in a stand on the desk. While doing this the tablet is wirelessly bridging to a dock that instantly connects the tablet to two monitors, keyboard, and mouse. Just bringing the tablet in range connects it to all the peripherals needed to turn it into a full desktop system.

This one feature could kick-start the Windows 8 tablet segment into overdrive. It's a very useful feature that could capture the imagination of consumers and businesses alike. It wouldn't be expensive to produce yet would add a lot of value to the Windows 8 tablet. It would let pure slate form devices (e.g. the ThinkPad Tablet 2) serve as great mobile tablets and turn into full desktop systems on demand. It would certainly beat the competition hands-down.

See related: ThinkPad Tablet 2: Best Windows tabletThinkPad Tablet 2: First look | ThinkPad Tablet 2: Inking in Windows 8 | ThinkPad Tablet 2: First impressions

The idea of wireless docking is nothing new. Dell first showed it off back in 2009 with the Latitude Z laptop. In addition to the wireless dock Dell also added wireless charging to the Z package. Perhaps it was too expensive or maybe shoppers didn't see enough of a need for wireless docking with a laptop as the Z never went anywhere and soon disappeared.

More recently Dell has shown off the Wireless Dock D5000 for its Latitude 6430u Ultrabook. Updated from the model years earlier, the current dock allows connecting up to two displays, gigabit ethernet, keyboard, mouse, hard drives, and other USB devices into the dock. The dock wirelessly connects to the Ultrabook when in range (about 10 feet) over the 60GHz WiGig band.

Dell is persistent in its effort to get wireless docking for laptops, but it makes more sense to do so with tablets. Turning a tablet into a desktop system with dual monitors and a full suite of peripherals would be very useful. You could do all your desktop work and then simply walk away with the tablet to go mobile. If they could throw wireless charging for the tablet into the bundle that would be icing on the cake.

I believe this would be very big in the Windows 8 tablet space and would kick-start adoption into high gear. There is nothing comparable on competing platforms and Windows could own this. Hopefully Microsoft and its partners (not just Dell) are thinking about this. If they aren't, they need new visionaries.

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