Is the Motorola Atrix and laptop dock worth $500?

The Atrix 4G and innovative laptop dock impressed me enough to get my "CES best of show" designation, so is the pair worth $499?

The ToyBox tells us the details about the Motorola Atrix 4G superphone including pricing and shipping dates. The Atrix 4G and innovative laptop dock impressed me enough to get my "CES best of show" designation, so is the pair worth $499? The answer is a resounding "maybe".

First the details as provided by The ToyBox: the Atrix 4G will hit AT&T shelves on March 6, with ordering available Feb. 13. The phone will sell for $199.99 with a 2-year contract with AT&T. The laptop dock, basically a shell for working with the phone, will be available bundled with the Atrix for $499.99. That's a hefty price and even though the bundle is cool as can be, it gives pause to the decision to pull the trigger on the purchase.

The laptop dock has no memory, processor nor storage onboard. It is essentially a shell that looks like a thin, light laptop, and contains a laptop screen, keyboard, battery, oversized trackpad and ports. There is a dock behind the laptop display (see photo above) that accepts the phone. Once the Atrix 4G is docked, the "laptop" provides easy interaction with the phone, which becomes the laptop processor, memory and storage. The phone also supplies connectivity to the AT&T "4G" network. The laptop dock has its own battery for all-day computing, and even charges the phone while docked.

The ideal candidate for the Atrix/ laptop dock bundle is a professional who frequently travels. This user carries a laptop anyway, and replacing it with the thinner, lighter dock will result in a package easier to carry. The Atrix 4G laptop software lets the user interact with the phone, and run all apps on the full screen of the laptop. Business users are likely to work with Microsoft Office documents, and since several apps exist for Android that provide that capability the Atrix bundle should fill that need.

The primary issue is the $500 price tag for the bundle, which is a significant investment. The phone alone is $200, so the laptop dock is in essence a $300 limited notebook. Some folks will have a problem with that, since a full Windows netbook can be purchased for that price. Others may find the easier travel to be worth the price of the dock. It shouldn't be overlooked that Android apps are much cheaper than netbook apps, especially programs like MS Office, and the price comparison should take that into account.

There is no question the Atrix 4G and the laptop dock is the coolest thing to come along in a while. That may tip the scale to the purchase for some who find that a desirable trait. A multimedia dock can be added for another $190 that turns the phone into a HD set top box, connecting to the TV in the hotel room on business trips. Kind of an all-in-one solution for the tech aficionado.