Motorola has released a demo video for the upcoming Atrix 4G smartphone — you know, the one with the optional $150 Webtop docking station that effectively turns the phone into a notebook computer? It looks like there will also be a media dock which will allow you to connect the phone to a big screen TV and use a remote to control media playback.

I have to say, I really like the idea of a single device which you carry in your pocket — thus keeping all of your important data and apps with you wherever you go, which then serves multiple functions around the house or on the go depending on the docking station.

While I hear a lot of chatter that tablets are killing netbooks, I don’t think that’s true. While there’s certainly some overlap in functionality, netbooks and tablets are different product categories and while some netbook customers might decide that tablets better meet their needs, others will prefer devices with QWERTY keyboards. The Atrix 4G, on the other hand, really could replace the need for a netbook or notebook computer for some people.

That said, I do have one major concern about this one-device-to-rule-them-all kind of model. First, I have an iPod touch and an Android phone. While you’d think I only use the iPod touch to run iOS apps that aren’t available on Android, I’ve realized that I actually prefer it for reading eBooks and playing games. That’s not because it necessarily does a better job at either of those things — it’s because I don’t care if the battery dies on my iPod touch. If it does, I can still take phone calls. But if I spend a few hours playing games or reading eBooks on my Google Nexus One, suddenly I jeopardize one of its most important features: the ability to send and receive phone calls.

If you’re busy using your Atrix 4G to watch movies on your TV, what are you going to do when the phone rings? Fortunately the demo video shows that you can make and take phone calls when the phone is docked to Webtop notebook station.

Anyway, the Atrix 4G is still one of the more exciting new devices I’ve seen in a while — even if you have to buy multiple docking stations before the phone can reach its full potential.

Update: AT&T has unveiled the official pricing for the Atrix 4G and Webtop, and I’m suddenly a lot less excited. The phone will run just $199.99 on contract, but the phone + laptop dock will run $499.99. On top of that, you’ll have to pay for a tethering add-on to use your phone’s 4G internet connection with the Webtop.

via Engadget



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5 replies on “Motorola Atrix 4G demo video: Could be the only mobile device you need?”

  1. The dock has its own battery. So you shouldn’t drain the phone much while using it with the dock…

    1. Good point. I guess my larger issue is that while this sort of thing makes a
      lot of sense for a mobile internet device, when the core of your computer is
      a phone, it could make the actual phone call part more awkward.

      That said, I think a lot of us are moving past phone calls as SMS, chat, and
      mobile email become more common.
      On Jan 28, 2011 10:31 PM, “Disqus”

      1. Seems they will also offer a small table top charging dock that you can connect to a Monitor and a USB keyboard for either desktop style use or playing movies without worrying about it losing charge, at least while at home.

  2. I think this is a great concept, the idea of docking your phone and running Linux off of that phone makes for a versatile mobile package. Although I don’t think Motorola will pull this off as well as they could, they probably didn’t spend all that much time working with the Webtop’s OS and it will probably be proprietary.

    If you can install Linux packages that you download off the internet to the phone and install them…then it would be a true beast. But if not, all you really have is a Chrome OS notebook that can run android apps and make phone calls.

    Also the media dock is a complete throwaway idea. I’m disappointing they spent time developing a phone to be docked and used with a TV. What if I want to actually use the phone, kinda impractical when it’s stuck in a dock so I can watch a movie.

    1. You may be right about how well Motorola pulls this off. Every converging multi-purpose device has to deal with compromises but so far it seems Atrix handles most of them pretty well.

      Like you can simply close the lid of the dock to switch it back to the phone. So you can just pull it out of the dock if you want to answer a call or just switch to speaker-phone, which you can probably do without undocking it as you have full access to the Android OS with the dock as well. Not to mention a simple bluetooth headset option solution.

      The linux feature is mainly a virtual machine that right now lets you use a full browser but that’s potentially expandable. However, the optional Citrix app lets you run a remote Windows 7 PC.

      So even if the linux features are limited you can still potentially do much more than you would otherwise expect from such a device.

      But of course we’ll only know for sure when people actually use the Atrix and we see their feedback will determine if Motorola has a hit or miss…

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