Dell Laptop Fails to Excite With Wireless Charger

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The Dell Latitude Z's wireless charger may provide relief for a subset people who despise power bricks and cords, but for the rest of us, it's an empty "wow" gesture that most users won't use.

Dell claims that the Latitude Z is the first laptop with wireless docking and an inductive wireless charger, which uses a pair of coils--one in the laptop and another in a special charging stand--to generate an electromagnetic field. But maybe the technology was untouched by Dell's rivals for good reason.

For starters, the stand is huge. From press photos, it appears to be a large plate connected to an even larger stand, containing a base surface and an equally huge raised platform. You'll need a nice desk to support this lavish set-up--laptop, in the literal sense, this is not--and you won't want to take it with you.

Also, the charger itself is no more effective than a standard AC plug. Steve Belt, Dell's vice president of business client engineering, told the IDG News Service that the wireless charger takes the same amount of time to juice a laptop as an AC connection.

For these privileges, you'll pay an extra $200 on top of the Latitude Z's base $2000 price tag. For that money, I'd rather buy one or two more power cords, and plant them in the places where I use my laptop most.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the Latitude Z as a whole. The notebook boasts a few features that like to see in more laptops. Among them is the instant-on feature that lets you check e-mail and browse the Web during start-up (HP has beaten Dell to the punch here). There's also an optional wireless docking station that lets you connect TVs and USB devices while moving around freely with the laptop itself. Unlike the charger, the docking station seems worth the extra $200, especially if you plan to watch Web video through your television.

Dell may be the world's first computer maker to pair wireless docking with an inductive laptop charger, but I won't shed a tear if it's also the last.

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