I mentioned in my last post about a future where all our computing needs will be encapsulated in our mobile superphones, where these portable devices will be powerful enough to meet all our computing needs for work and play. When I started writing the post, I didn’t know of a newly announced device that actually meets one of what I mentioned as a key feature for such a superphone – the ability to dock to a terminal complete with a keyboard and monitor. I was quite excited at the time to find that I was such a gifted clairvoyant, but seeing that I had the original post in draft instead of published form, it was hard to claim any sort of credit. Still, I was quite excited to find out a little more.
The Motorola Atrix 4G, announced at the recent CES 2011, has plenty of writeups on the web on its capabilities as a next generation Android device, and I’ll leave it to you to search the landscape if you want to find out more. The part that I want to talk about, and has interested me the most is its ability to turn into a laptop. The Atrix is a super-spec’ed smartphone (at the time of writing anyway, when you read this in a year’s time you’ll probably cringe at the specs) in its own right, but Motorola designed this phone to be extended to be used like a regular netbook. The Atrix has a laptop dock, which when paired with the Atrix, provides ‘webtop’ experience. Here’s what Motorola says about the dock:
MOTOROLA ATRIX 4G accessories redefine just how smart a smartphone can be. The revolutionary Lapdock™ looks like a slim laptop but only comes to life when you dock your ATRIX 4G. That’s when the webtop app fires up, giving you a big screen look at your phone’s content, access to the web with a standard browser and more. Plus, all docks for ATRIX 4G remember your preferences for a customized experience.
This is very close to the vision of the future I would like to see very soon. Imagine the dock being available everywhere – be it a laptop dock, or a computer terminal dock, or what AT&T is currently selling as an optional package: the Entertainment Access Kit, which includes the Motorola HD Multimedia Dock and remote control, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a wireless mouse – all to connect to the device.
I’ll summarize the reviews for you – the Atrix is an awesome phone, but as a webtop it has some way to go to reach the sort of performance levels we’re used to seeing in a dedicated netbook or laptop. Also, the price is forbidding – the laptop dock itself costs as much as an actual netbook.
As technology is wont to do, future iterations of similar devices would bring the costs down while improving the device capabilities and raw power. As I’ve said before, the next few years would be quite exciting to watch.