Dell launches Ultra-Wideband Linux laptop
Linux module gives days rather than hours on single battery charge
News September 29th, 2009
By Roger Howorth

Dell launched its first laptop that comes with an Ultra-Wideband (UWB) wireless docking option and Linux module that runs alongside Microsoft Windows software. The Linux suite extends battery life and provide instant access to email and web applications.

Launched today, the Dell Latitude Z is an ultra thin portable that measures just 2.5cm from top to bottom. Priced from £1,319 and weighing 2.04 kilos, the Latitude is crammed full of innovative new technologies, including wireless charging and docking. The UWB wireless docking station has a range of up to 2 meters, so it would work properly when the latitude is placed anywhere near the docking station.

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Dell Latitude Z: Supplied with Linux and Windows

Lisa Holmes, Dell Notebook Product Manager, told The Hypervisor the Latitude Z is designed for power users, “Design is a big feature of the Latitude Z, so we’re looking at people that are image conscious, such as executives and digital nomads. It’s an ultra portable with a 16 inch screen, so it’s really for people that like to be seen with the latest and greatest technology.”

Although the ultra-portable design and 1600×900 wide-screen are striking, Holmes said it’s the wireless docking and charging that really catch peoples’ eye. “We’ve been looking at Ultra-Wideband docking for a couple of years but it’s the first time we’ve done it on any of our systems. Users set it up once when they get the system and then it just works. It supports video at up to 1M range, and for non-video applications like Word and Excel it works at up to 2M from docking unit,” Holmes added.

The wireless docking station will be available at the end of October. Wireless charging is available now and works by placing the Latitude Z on top of a charging station. Both the laptop and the charging station have inductive coils built in.

“You just place the Latitude on top of the charging unit and the two coils talk to each other and begin charging the batteries,” said Holmes.

Linux software is used to drive the Latitude ON module, which provides instant access to email and web applications using a fraction of the battery power needed to run the normal Windows environment. “It’s very low voltage – around 1 watt — so you get days instead of hours of battery life”, said Holmes.

Latitude ON uses its own dedicated processor (CPU) and 512K KB of RAM, so it literally is its own little Linux subsystem inside the Latitude. “It’s like having a smart phone integrated into your laptop. It works with Microsoft Exchange and provides full email, calendar and contacts functionality. There’s also a web browser, but the Linux module doesn’t allow access to your hard drive or any of the ports on the side of the system,” Holmes added.

This is the first time Dell has included the Linux based Latitude ON software in the base price for a laptop. Previously Dell included a simpler version in Latitude 4200 and 4300 units. “People that purchased these with the Latitude ON Reader can upgrade to the full version of Latitude ON for £199,” said Holmes.

Other interesting features include Dell Capture Technology, which allows users to scan business cards using the Z’s built in 2 mega-pixel camera. The camera is also integrated into a security feature called Dell FaceAware Lock-Out, which automatically locks the keyboard and screen if the user steps away from the laptop.

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