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Current Toshiba R400 Tablet PCs Are Not UWB Wireless Dock Compatible



The things you can learn from the forums.

JDRAdvisors, a GBM reader and a Toshiba Authorized Reseller, recently learned that the innovative Toshiba R400 UWB Wireless Dock, announced in January during CES 2007, will finally be released around June 22.

JDRAdvisors also alerted our readers that, based on a conversation he had with a Sr. Systems Engineer from Toshiba , the Wireless Docking Station will not be compatible with current Toshiba R400 Tablet PCs. Obviously, this did not sit well with current owners, and it certainly raised a red flag with us, as it was the first time we can recall hearing about incompatibilities. So, we went straight to Toshiba to get some clarity on this apparently new information.

Here is what our Toshiba contact, Michael Bingham, has told us regarding the compatability issue:

The Portégé R400, which was announced during CES 2007, was made available for purchase on January 30, 2007. It was stated in the Portégé R400 press release at CES that the Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator would only be compatible with newer Portégé R400 models that are targeted for production with the Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator during the second quarter of 2007.

The original production run of all Portégé R400 models during the first quarter of 2007 are not compatible with the Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator, and due to technological restraints and FCC regulations there are no plans to make these Portégé R400s compatible with the Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator.

We are sorry for any disappointment that this news may have caused, but we invite you to review the Portégé R400 press release for greater clarification regarding this product launch. We would like to thank you for your continued support of Toshiba and its products.”

Here is the wording from the press release, dated January 7, 2007:

With the Portégé R400, Toshiba is announcing the world’s first wirelessly dockable notebook computer. This seamless approach eliminates the daily hassle of connecting and disconnecting peripherals and delivers the convenience and simplicity that mobile users demand. Through the integration of Ultra Wide Band (UWB) technology with wireless digital video capabilities, the Portégé R400 docking experience is designed specifically for desktop use and can automatically connect when the notebook comes within proximity of the Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator. The Toshiba Wireless Port Replicator will be compatible with new Portégé R400 models—both products are targeted for availability in the second quarter of 2007 (bold added by GBM )

Coming out of CES, the Wireless Docking Station was one of the major “WOW” features of the R400 and resulted in driving a lot of interest in the new tablet pc. No one on the GBM team heard or understood, based on literature we read and people we spoke with, that 1st quarter R400’s would not be compatible with the Wireless Docking Station, but it sure is right there in the press release for us all to see.

During Dennis’ interview with Kevin Roberts, Toshiba’s Product Manager for the R400, the incompatibility issue was never raised. We never knew to ask about it, and Mr. Roberts never brought it up. In our opinion, Toshiba could have done a much better job of educating potential buyers of this issue. Relying on that one sentence statement, in a press release, isn’t enough to drive home the point to potential buyers of this very expensive tablet pc. To be honest, that statement wasn’t very clear, either. At the time of the press release, the R400 was new, and the way that statement reads, it appears that the Wireless Dock would be compatible with the new R400. In addition, in one part of the press release, it states that the R400 would be available in the first quarter. In another part, it states the R400 would be available in the second quarter. Quite confusing to say the least.

What consumer actually spends time reading press releases and would be able derive from that particular press release: “that R400’s purchased in the first quarter will not work with the Wireless Dock. R400’s purchased in the second quarter, when the Wireless Dock is announced, will work with the Wireless Dock.” It is very disappointing that current R400 owners now find themselves in the position that they do, and it could have been avoided with clearer communication.

Our advice: if you are interested in buying an R400 and are also interested in the upcoming Wireless Dock, wait until the Wireless Dock is released. Then, make sure you ask your sales rep or Authorized Reseller if the R400 you are buying is compatible with the Wireless Dock.  I’m sure the sales channel will contain a mix bag of Wireless Dock compatible and non-compatible R400 Tablet PCs for a while.

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