If using a PC docking station feels like being tied down with an anchor, it’s time to break the chains with a wireless docking solution that lets you wander your office – hassle and wire free.
Wireless docking solutions make connecting with a keyboard, mouse and monitors drop-dead simple. You can skip the clunky mechanical “snap” and “click” of mounting a PC to a piece of flat plastic. Wireless docks are easy to use and also keep you connected to a corporate LAN without having to fret about passwords or shifting from Ethernet to WiFi.
|Dell WLD15 Wireless Laptop Dock|
For those reasons, Dell introduced a cube-shaped Wireless Dock WLD15 based on the wireless standard WiGig. This $270 wireless dock supports two displays with either its VGA port, mini Display Port or HDMI port. It also has two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, an audio jack and a gigabit Ethernet port.
The catch with Dell’s Wireless Dock WLD15, as with most wireless docks, is that they're typically brand- and laptop model-specific. According to Dell, the WLD15 is compatible with five Latitude models, including Latitude 7000 Series, Latitude 13 7000 Series 2-in-1 and Latitude 5000 Series. The good news is wireless docks aren’t prohibitively expensive. In the case of the Wireless Dock WLD15, when you buy a compatible Dell laptop a wired dock is a $175 option. Spend $65 more and the WLD15 buys you a lot more freedom.
The WLD15 model is Dell’s next-generation wireless dock, with the previous model being the D5000. Unlike the previous D5000 model that was criticized for its lack of ports and range and good (but not great) data transfer speeds, the WLD15 improves on both with a new Intel architecture, making wireless transfer speeds faster and distances greater, according to Dell.
In our review of the Wireless Dock WLD15, setting up the hardware to work with a compatible Dell Latitude 12 7000 Ultrabook (model E7250) couldn’t have been easier. The boxy design with ample ports made it easy to connect additional monitors, keyboard, mouse and even a few USB peripherals, including an external hard drive and LG phone. Now, the Latitude was ready to go no matter where I wanted to wander.
|Dell WLD15 Wireless Laptop Dock|
The key enabling technology for the WLD15 wireless technology is Intel’s WiGig Tri-Band Wireless–AC 17265 technology. It's a standard established by the Wi-Fi alliance that uses the WiFi 802.11ad protocol. It operates in the unlicensed 60GHz frequency range and promises data transmission rates of up to 7Gbps. In short-range tests of the WLD15, we saw no discernible difference from a wired dock when we transferred files from an external hard drive connected to the WLD15 to a test Latitude 12 7000 Ultrabook. We were equally impressed when playing 1080p HD video files on our laptop and viewing them on a HD display connected to the WLD15 wireless dock.
But as great as WiGig is, it can’t replace your office’s WiFi network. In a test of the WLD15 and the range we could stay connected to a Latitude, we could only wander about 50 feet before we lost our connection to the wireless dock. Fifty feet is actually impressive, given that WiGig has a range of 30 feet. And as you might imagine, the further we tested the laptop from the WLD15 wireless dock in our real-world test, the throughput became slower, impacting video streaming and data transfer rates.
Thanks to super-thin and ultralight notebooks with minimal ports -- and sometimes not even a place to plug in an Ethernet cord -- a full-featured docking station with ample ports is more important than ever. Dell's WLD15 Wireless Dock not only delivers excellent port expansion, but also the convenience of having a fast and reliable wire-free alternative to that clunky wired docking station you know you secretly loathe.