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Moto Promises More Laptop Docks for Phones

The Motorola Atrix caused quite a stir when it debuted at CES Las Vegas, in January of this year. However, it wasn’t the Tegra 2 processor or slim form factor that had everyone talking about this device (though those were publicly praised, too). No, the unique thing about this device was that it came with the option for a laptop dock that would turn your cell phone into a notebook.


Though the docking station and its Webtop software was met with mixed reviews, the device represented something different in the market. Indeed, Motorola sees the Atrix dock as its chance to differentiate itself from competing companies. And, with so many ‘me-too’ products on the market, it’s a chance the company plans to exploit.

"In the Android ecosystem, there is a need for us to differentiate," CNet cites Sanjay Jha, chairman and chief executive officer of Motorola Mobility, as saying during the company’s earnings call. "[With] Atrix devices with the Webtop and lap-dock we really think there is an alternative way of viewing the convergence between mobility and computing. And we will continue to focus on that."

"You will see multiple devices from us in the second half...and we will expand the range of our lap-dock devices so we cover a broader price point, addressing both enterprise tiers as well as more consumer tiers."

Jha didn’t go into any more detail about upcoming devices, he just confirmed that the Atrix laptop dock wasn’t one of a kind, or an experiment. However, with the advent of newer, more powerful processors, Motorola might be onto something. Both Qualcomm and Samsung have 2GHz CPUs planned for next year, and Qualcomm’s even got a quad-core version. Yes, it’s certainly an exciting time in the mobile industry.

What would a laptop dock for you cell phone need to have before you consider dropping a couple of Benjamins on such a device? Let us know in the comments below!

  • NapoleonDK
    I would like to see the phone used either as a trackpad or as a notifications window in the dock. I use an application called GMote with my phone, and I can tell you that I quickly adjusted to navigating and controlling my PC's cursor from the phone screen one-handed. It would be quite easy to slide the phone into the dock like a cartridge and use it like a trackpad. In fact, I was a bit surprised the I first saw the Atrix attached to the backside of its laptop dock!

    I think that with the laptop form factor and the cartridge-style phone loading capability, you have the opportunity to dedicate a significant portion of the housing to battery capacity, speakers, full-size HDMI, webcam...the list goes on and on... We could easily see a whole new set of apps written for the laptop environment too, lets see OpenOffice, Ardour, GIMP, Blender, Pidgin, Firefox, Thunderbird all compiled for RISC/ARM 2Ghz Quads and Tegra 4...

    There is literally nothing stopping this from happening. Heck it could be done be your average basement Linux enthusiast with a liters of Mt Dew Code Red and an industrial sack of Cool Ranch Doritoes!
    Reply
  • zkevwlu
    This is a bloody stupid idea from day 1... it's just about the most useless thing I have ever seen come out of the tech industry in quite some time now.
    Reply
  • NapoleonDK
    zkevwluThis is a bloody stupid idea from day 1... it's just about the most useless thing I have ever seen come out of the tech industry in quite some time now.Why do you think that? It seems like most everyone I talk to uses their desktop for anything complex and their laptop for lightweight duty.

    I don't see a downside to having a dock like this. You'd essentially have yourself a full linux environment with an nice 3G/4G data connection, and by the time it's properly polished you'll have better battery life and more performance than most sub-$500 notebooks out there in a device you already carry with you wherever you go anyway!

    The only downside I see is that the smartphone environment moves so fast that people are upgrading their phones every 1 to 1 1/2 years. Lord knows the cell phone companies won't make their docks backwards compatible... =\
    Reply
  • Anomalyx
    It would have to be around $50 for me to even consider buying one, but I'm a cheapskate, so I'll say $100 would be a sane price. It's just a screen and keyboard for your phone... at it's current price of $500, I'd rather buy a regular laptop with an OS meant for a PC.
    Reply
  • Anomalyx
    zkevwluThis is a bloody stupid idea from day 1... it's just about the most useless thing I have ever seen come out of the tech industry in quite some time now.Finally someone who doesn't buy the hype! I agree. It's a screen and keyboard. Nothing more. I don't care to pay $500 for a screen and keyboard.
    TIP: put an Apple logo on it, make it for iPhone, and suddenly the price will be "justified".
    Reply
  • NapoleonDK
    AnomalyxIt would have to be around $50 for me to even consider buying one, but I'm a cheapskate, so I'll say $100 would be a sane price. It's just a screen and keyboard for your phone... at it's current price of $500, I'd rather buy a regular laptop with an OS meant for a PC.I thought the dock was only $200... Anyway, I agree that the price would need to come down, and that you'd need a desktop OS. There is no way I would want Android on an 11" laptop screen. But if they gave me Ubuntu with 12-14 hours of heavy usage battery life, then we would have something! If we see a Quad-core Tegra 3/4 phone with a subsidized price of $150-200 and a badass Ubuntu-type dock for another $100, that would easily replace a $500 notebook. Plus you would see Linux desktop environments gain a huge dose of market penetration.
    Reply
  • NapoleonDK
    AnomalyxFinally someone who doesn't buy the hype! I agree. It's a screen and keyboard. Nothing more. I don't care to pay $500 for a screen and keyboard.TIP: put an Apple logo on it, make it for iPhone, and suddenly the price will be "justified".Nobody would pay $500 for a screen and a keyboard, you're right. But I think I could certainly find some people who would pay $100 for something more than just a dock, something with a massive battery, HDMI, all the things I mentioned earlier...something that could turn their snazzy new Android phone into a full-sized mobile workstation. I would certainly want a desktop OS though, and Chrome OS WOULDN'T CUT IT!
    Reply
  • nukem950
    Didn't Palm attempt this years ago?
    Reply
  • virtualban
    This will be one of those things that will have enough success and customers to make it worth while. While not worth for most, it is not needed to be worth for most. As long as the few that use it will be satisfied, it will be alright. In a global scale, the "few" are in fact a lot.
    Companies should do this more often, trying to satisfy the "few" into exactly what they need.
    It's like: who needs a 6 core cpu of 1000$ when the cheaper 4 core of newer generation will do a better job. Ok, maybe this is not a perfect example, but still you get the point. As long as there are some people that find this solution useful, companies will make profit satisfying their customers. Listening to what customers demand and filling that in the supply is the way to go. With time and enough competition they will listen even to "make it cheaper" demands.
    Reply
  • virtualban
    __-_-_-__this is the Future. Imagine playing crysis on your mobile. Just add a keyboard I a mouse and, a large screenI want it projected into my retina and controlled via brain computer interface as a first step.
    Hijacking my sensors in the path to the brain and full immersion as second step.
    The holodeck is too expensive. :P
    Reply