Loving the Motorola laptop dock

With the Xoom tablet and three 4G phones, Motorola had a powerful array of products at CES 2011. But its new laptop dock is what impressed this CNET editor the most.

LAS VEGAS--With its Best of CES Xoom tablet and an impressive selection of 4G Android smartphones, Motorola had a very good CES . Its Atrix handset won CNET's top award for the cell phone category, the Droid Bionic also packed a dual-core processor, and the Cliq 2 gave us a design twist we hadn't seen before. But even with that show of force, Moto really delivered with its laptop dock. Though it doesn't make calls and it can't do anything by itself, it shows some innovation and creativity that none of Moto's wireless rivals brought to Las Vegas.

Admittedly, you wouldn't think much of the laptop dock the first time you picked it up. Though it's paper-thin, its bland design won't stand apart from your average netbook. And unless you have a phone in hand, it's little more than a large paperweight. Yet, the laptop dock isn't about looks or what's inside; it's cool because it harnesses your phone's power and puts it on a new level.

Designed for AT&T's Atrix, the laptop dock allows you to comfortably use the phone's media, browsing and messaging features for long periods. Just plug in the Atrix to the ports on the back and the laptop dock's 11.6-inch monitor takes over. You can see all of the phone's features on the larger screen and interact with them using the standard keyboard and touch pad. Also, the Atrix's Wep top app ensure a seamless transition back and forth. It's a simple and exceedingly user-friendly concept--and one that I didn't even know that I wanted--but it transforms your phone into a real computing device.

Josh Miller/CNET

When using the laptop dock I could type messages much faster on the full-size keyboard and get a better video experience than I would on the Atrix's 4-inch touch screen. I could angle the display as I wished and I loved that I didn't get the eye strain that I usually experience after using my phone's Web browser for even a few minutes. The dock also offers stereo speakers and up to 8 hours of battery life while delivering a steady charge to your phone. And since it weighs just 2.4 pounds you can take it almost anywhere.

Great technology doesn't have to bring mind-blowing features or "the next best thing." It should, however, make existing products better and the laptop dock certainly improves the Atrix. The Atrix still is a phone, but when used with the laptop dock it's a better entertainment and productivity device. If I had a complaint right now, it's that the accessory is compatible only with the one handset. Though the Atrix appears to be a great phone by all accounts, Motorola needs to make the dock available for more models in its lineup. I also hope the company keeps the price at a reasonable level or even bundles it with the phone. Remember, Moto, the dock is all about convenience, so don't take any steps to make it less so.

I'll be nagging Motorola to give me review models as soon as possible. I'll save my final assessment until that time, but right now I'm thoroughly impressed.

 

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