NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Is there anything sadder than a great idea that doesn't solve a business problem? To wit, the Motorola (MOT) Atrix 2 ($450 without a plan or $99 with a two-year contract from AT&T (T) - Get Report) and the Lapdock 100 ($250).
Earlier this year, at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas -- yes, next year's confab is coming at us in early January, so expect some look-ahead columns -- I had the single most fascinating one-to-one meetup of the show. I sat down with a pre-
acquisition Motorola, since in those days the company was more than happy to show off its latest ideas. In this case, it was a groundbreaking half-laptop, half-cellphone device dubbed the Lapdock.
The Motorola Atrix smartphone is intended to connect with a Lapdock for use with a full-sized keyboard and monitor.
The idea was to match the connectivity and processor of a fast smartphone called the Atrix with a light keyboard and screen.
Business users would carry both separately, with the Atrix pulling most of the duty as a normal smartphone. But when a full keyboard was needed -- say, for documents or advanced Web work -- the phone would dock with the 12-or-so-inch Lapdock keyboard and screen, then lend its Web connection and chipsets and, voila, form a business productivity powerhouse right there on your lap.
At least in theory.
Over the past year, I have followed the progress of the Lapdock concept: an initial release last spring and recently an upgraded
with restyled keyboards, new docking features and improved processors.
Considering how fascinated I was by the concept, I arranged for a demo with
for the latest model.
What you get
This is as intriguing an idea for mobile business computing as there is on the market.
For me, the idea behind the Lapdock is
brilliant: a reasonable-sized smartphone and reasonably light laptop that combine to make one very powerful mobile business solution. When it all worked -- much more on that in a second -- one really does have a complete mobile work tool: a fully functioning, touch-activated, 4.3-inch smartphone screen, a dual-core processor and the chops to handle most any business task. Plus, when docked, a real, near full-sized PC keyboard, a big screen, full-on Web access and a great-get-things-done virtual work environment.
What you don't get
Unfortunately, the devil is in the techno details with the Lapdock.
First of all, as fast and easy as it was to dock the Atrix into the Lapdock, getting it fully booted up can be terribly slow. Next, while Web browsing can work well, overall computer performance does not. Worse, while phone functions such as contacts, telephony and apps were available while in docked-to-the-Lapdock mode, most of the controls for these features were terribly hard to use.
Which meant that what you wound up with for all your trouble was a slow PC that took forever to turn on and that could be horribly nasty to make work.
Who has time for that?
The Lapdock is a great idea with real potential to be a game changer for mobile business users, so be sure to stay tuned to the concept in 2012. But after weeks of testing this unit -- and really trying to like it -- as of now, don't bother.
The average Jayne or Joe Business Pro had better wait for the Lapdock 200 before seeing if this marvelous concept can work for them.
>To submit a news tip, email:
and become a fan on
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.