The Extinction Of Computers As We Know Them

The only constant is flux.  Nowhere is this more true in today’s world than in mobile technology.  Recently, Motorola released the Atrix 4G phone.  A unique and widely promoted feature of the Atrix is its new “docking” system. This system sows the seeds for yet another paradigm shift in the mobile world.  As if the iPad wasn’t enough.

Imagine this:

The alarm on your phone wakes you up for work.  You jump into the shower and have your phone read aloud the contents of your new email while you bask in the warm water.  You know which emails you can knock out with 140 characters or less.  Your list of 30 emails dwindles to 15 by the time you finish your commute to the office.

In the office, you dock your phone to the peripherals.  Using just one cable, perhaps utilizing Intel’s Light Peak technology, you are able to dock your phone to your office monitor, keyboard, and mouse.  All the apps you need for work are there.  Email, calendar, docs, tasks, notes, file browser, online storage, and more – readily accessible on the device you already carry with you every day.

While working on a new proposal, you get a phone call from your client.  Your screen informs you who it is, and you accept.  While on the call, you are able to refer to files relating to the client, make notes, schedule meetings, and more.  When you are finished, you disconnect, and your previous workspace is restored, exactly as it was prior to the call.

At the end of the workday, you undock your device, put it in your pocket, and go home.

You check email once more before you go to bed.  Instead of pecking at the virtual keyboard on the phone, you dock your phone to your monitor, keyboard and mouse at home.  After responding to an email or two, you undock the phone and head to bed.

You get the idea.

With this paradigm shift, the phone has replaced the laptop.  You have a palm-sized device with multiple CPUs, adequate graphics prowess, robust storage, unlimited entertainment and productivity apps, and the ability to conveniently dock to any set of peripherals, anywhere you are.

It is simply a matter of time before your “pocket computer” becomes your only computer.

The Motorola Atrix 4G – Phone, Media Center, & Laptop

Image credit: AT&TThe Motorola Atrix 4G, the phone that won widespread admiration at CES 2011, was released to the public on AT&T’s network yesterday. To say that this is just another Android phone would be an understatement. In addition to being one of the few phones to support the new 4G networks, the Atrix features the unique ability to transform itself into a powerful media center or laptop via a series of peripheral docks.

The multimedia dock is more play than work, allowing users to easily connect their Atrix to their TV and enjoy videos, music, and more. While that is likely to be a popular feature among home theater enthusiasts, I’d like to focus more on the second docking option: the laptop dock. The laptop dock allows Atrix users to connect the phone to a lightweight laptop frame. This then runs a “web-top” application, allowing users to harness the productivity of the laptop form, all from their mobile phone. In theory, this could drastically improve your productivity on the go. While you don’t save much space when compared to carrying around a phone and tablet/small laptop, you do benefit from having everything easily accessible on one device. It may sound like a small thing, but it can have a huge impact on your mobile productivity!

The laptop dock is something we have not yet seen from any other mobile phone, and it certainly has the potential to change the way we work while on the go. However, it remains to be seen just how well it works in the real world. Initial reviews generally praise the phone, but suggest skipping the laptop dock. They state that, while the concept is widely adored, the actual application is a bit clunky and too expensive. That said, this is merely version 1. The technology has a lot of room to advance, get faster, and come down in price.

With tablets already changing they way we work on the go, do you think the unique docking features of the Atrix have a chance to put a dent in the popularity of the tablet? Or will they simply manifest as marketing gimmicks that ultimately die out?

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