April 1, 2011

Lapdock Is The Latest Gadget From Motorola

Not long ago, when the Apple iPad made its debut, we were among the tech pundits who speculated that a family of products like the iPad, iPhone and MacBook could easily evolve into a complementary “eco-system” of technology.Screen shot 2011-03-24 at 11.07.33 AM

As the miniaturization of data storage has enabled gigabytes by the dozen, or even by the hundred, to fit in a space the size of a thumbnail, and as software applications move out of devices and into “the cloud,” it is becoming entirely possible to take all of the digital “stuff” that once required a desktop or laptop computer to contain, and fit it all neatly into a pocket-friendly smartphone. The obvious problem with miniaturization, however, is just that, the size. While small packaging is great for data and software portability, it has its limits on the human side of the system.

The idea behind the tech eco-system is that your portable smartphone carrying all of your data would be able to dock or connect to compatible tablet devices, laptops or desktops, letting you work anywhere, while eliminating the need to sync multiple devices, or worry about which file is on which device.

As it turns out, our speculation about such an eco-system wasn’t that far out. Earlier this year, Motorola introduced its Atrix 4G smartphone as the heart of just such a system. Based on the Android operating system for mobile devices, the Atrix can run large-device applications such as Firefox and Word, along with many typical mobile “apps.”

What makes the Atrix part of a system is a selection of docks, most notably the “Lapdock.” When the Atrix is connected to the Lapdock, e-mail messages, websites and files can be accessed and viewed using the netbook-sized keyboard and screen. The Lapdock has the bells and whistles like speakers and a touchpad, but the brains and content stay with the Atrix smartphone.

Given Motorola’s history in the cellphone business, it’s no surprise that they’re the source of this first mass-market digital eco-system. Now that the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, it should be interesting to see how other major players interpret the eco-system concept. Whatever happens, it’s sure to benefit truckers and other mobile workers.