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Dell's Wireless Dock D5000 really does free your laptop from cables

Michael Brown | July 12, 2013
The technology is great—provided you like the one laptop model it’s currently compatible with.

Dell says the D5000 delivers up to 10 meters of range (with the dock and laptop in the same room), but I found that claim wildly optimistic. I lost connection between the laptop and dock if I separated the two by more than six feet. Still, the fact that you can drive two displays and transfer files between a host PC and a docked hard drive without any wires is an impressive trick. If you've used a laptop with a conventional dock for any length of time, you know what a pain it can be to make that physical separation and connection over and over again. With the D5000 and the Latitude 6430u, you just pick up your notebook and walk away. When you come back to your desk, the system automatically reconnects and you can get back to work.

ROBERT CARDIN.You'll find two more USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort 1.1, HDMI 1.3, and gigabit ethernet on the rear panel.

While I noticed very little video lag with the wireless dock, I wouldn't recommend playing games on the system. Transferring files over the wireless connection was also significantly slower than when we hardwired a USB 3.0 hard drive to the notebook. When writing our single 10GB file to the drive using a hardwired USB 3.0 connection, we saw throughput of 99.2 MBps. When we wrote the same file to the drive via the D5000, the transfer occurred at just 31.5 MBps. Read speeds were even worse: 101.1 MBps hardwired versus just 47.4 MBps wireless. We had a similar experience when transferring our 10GB collection of files and folders: Write speeds went from 76.4 MBps to 41.5 MBps, while read speeds dropped from 93.9 MBps to just 44.2 MBps.

Of course you don't have to subject yourself to that slow data-transfer speed. If you're in a hurry, simply hardwire the drive to the laptop and go. I never found this necessary while I was using the combination. In terms of performance, the convenience factor far outweighs the sluggish wireless file-transfer speed.

Limited practicality

This implementation of WiGig is awesome. The fact that you can use it today with only one notebook--and you can buy a WiGig adapter only when you buy Dell's Latitude 6430u--is problematic at best. The Latitude 6430u happens to be a good Ultrabook, but it's an older model that's not available with Intel's latest fourth-generation Core processor (Haswell).

Other manufacturers are expected to jump into the WiGig docking station pond eventually, so we'll revisit this review as more products hit the market. For now, the D5000 has strictly limited appeal.


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