Tech

Dell ships a laptop stylus that can't get lost, a modular dock, and more

Dell UltraSharp U3223QE monitorImage: Dell

While Dell launched a number of new Latitude business laptops on Thursday, it’s some of the improved peripherals that are worth talking about: a new IPS Black display, a Tile-equipped pen, improvements to its Dell Optimizer software, and even a modular Thunderbolt dock.

Dell announced the Latitude 9430, a 14-inch 16:10 business laptop, available in April for $2,245 and up, alongside the Latitude 7330, an ultralight 2.13-pound 13.3-inch laptop for road warriors that will ship in April for $1,899 and up. Dell also announced a number of 5-series and 3-series laptops, boasting 12th-gen Intel vPro processors alongside Thunderbolt 4 ports.

Of course, Dell’s competitors have or will be unveiling 12th-gen mobile Core hardware, too. Instead, you may be interested in some of Dell’s more unique offerings.

Dell

Dell’s updated Optimizer software

All of Dell’s business PCs ship with Dell’s Optimizer software, the software utility that oversees many hardware and software features. The latest revision includes ExpressConnect, where the laptop can use a wired and wireless connection in conjunction with one another to maximize the available throughput. If only one is available, ExpressConnect will recommend switching to the highest-speed choice available.

Dell

Intelligent Protection may seem familiar to those who have used other business laptops: The laptop’s webcam keeps an eye out for those who may be potentially sneaking a peek at your screen, and can “texturize” the screen to obscure the information. It also will dim the screen if you look away, both for security’s sake and to conserve power. Dell also added better-centralized management features to help deploy specific configurations onto individual machines.

Dell’s Tile pen can’t get lost

Dell also announced the Premier Rechargeable Active Pen (PN7522W), which appears to be already on sale on Dell’s website for $110. Most laptops (with the exception of Samsung notebooks and possibly the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio) do an awful job of securing rewriteable pens aside from a magnetic connection. That can easily lead to them getting lost, which is what the PN7522W’s integrated Tile capability helps to avoid. When triggered, the Tile software hunts down the pen via Bluetooth, while the pen itself buzzes and lights up.

Dell

The three-button active stylus boasts what Dell claims is the longest battery life in a pen, charging 80 percent in 20 minutes and lasting 40 days on a single charge. It supports 4,096 levels of pressure. Unfortunately, it charges via a wired USB-C connection, and not wirelessly.

Dell UltraSharp U27273QE and U3223QE include ‘IPS Black’ tech

LED-backed IPS displays tend to “glow” even when displaying “black” content because light bleeds through the screen. OLED panels offer much higher contrast but can be more expensive. Dell states that its new 27-inch and 32-inch 4K UltraSharp displays are the first to feature IPS Black technology, which increases the static contrast ratio from about 1,000:1 to 2,000:1, resulting in deeper blacks for content creation and video playback. Both displays are also DisplayHDR certified, generating 400 nits of luminosity.

Both displays also serve as docking stations, providing a ton of ports. According to Dell, the displays ship with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 USB-C cable that connects the (Dell) laptop to the display, which can be daisy-chained to another UltraSharp via a provided Dell DisplayPort cable. Otherwise, the two displays support DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC (HDCP 2.2), an HDMI 2.0 port, and a USB-C port (DP 1.4, HDCP 2.2) with power delivery up to 90W. There are also five 10Gbps USB-A ports, a USB-C port for 15W charging, plus an RJ45 and 3.5mm audio jack. They feature tilt, swivel, and pivot capabilities and are height-adjustable.

Dell

Dell is charging $724.99 for the 27-inch U2723QE and $1,149.99 for the 34-inch U3223QE. Both are available now.

A modular Thunderbolt dock

Finally, Dell is selling standalone docks as well: the HD22Q Dual Charge Dock ($368.99), the UD22 Dell Universal Dock ($459.99), and the WD22TB4 Thunderbolt Dock ($469.99). Only the latter, of course, supports the Thunderbolt connection.

The WD22TB4 is a modular Thunderbolt dock, the first we’ve seen. It’s not quite clear how the modular functionality works, though an illustration shows what looks like two optional downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports via the module. Otherwise, the dock offers two DisplayPort 1.4 ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, a USB-C port (with DisplayPort functionality), a second USB-C port with USB 3.2 Gen 2 functionality, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports, another USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A port, and an Ethernet connection. The dock supports a pair of 4K/60 displays. (In the case of a small cadre of Precision workstations that include a HBR3 Thunderbolt interface with Display Stream Compression, three 4K/60 displays are supported.)

Dell

Dell’s HD22Q Dual Charge Dock allows you to charge and prop up your smartphone, wirelessly charging it up to 12W via an integrated Qi connection. Dell didn’t provide exact specifications but said that it includes four USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and an HDMI 2.1 port.

Dell’s UD22 Universal Dock uses DisplayLink, which compresses the display information and sends it over the bus. It requires a driver, but with compatible host hardware and the right dock, can offer superior resolution: “With DisplayLink drivers installed on the host notebook, the UD22 will support [two] 4K@60Hz [displays] with all the notebooks and can support up to four 4K@60Hz [displays]. with the notebooks that support HBR3 with Display Stream Compression.” (At press time, Dell hadn’t provided a list of those notebooks.) Nevertheless, that’s far more display information than a standard USB-C connection can handle, which is typically a single 4K/30 display.

The latter two docks will ship May 12; otherwise, Dell is saying its Thunderbolt dock will ship sometime in the second quarter.

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

Recent stories by Mark Hachman:

Apple claims its M4 chip’s AI will obliterate PCs. Nah, not reallyVESA’s new HDR spec makes low-end monitors less miserableWindows’ AI-powered future could feature ‘Qualcomm Inside’

Leave a Response