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.