This Motorola smartphone dock is secretly a full-fledged netbook

Motorola's long anticipated unveiling of the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet, now dubbed the Xoom, along with the introduction of its first 4G dual core 1 GHz + 1 GHz processor phone, the Atrix 4G, might have been trumped by an unexpected and unique accessory: a keyboard/11.6-inch screen/battery dock. By snapping in the Atrix into the rear of the otherwise dumb "dock," you get a 2 GHz 4G-connected notebook PC running Android.

In other words, the Atrix 4G becomes the removable engine of a thin laptop PC. When you jack in the Atrix, the keyboard immediately wakes up and displays whatever was on the screen on the Atrix when you plugged it in.

With its powerful dual 1 GHz processors and Quick Office app, the phone nearly can operate as a PC. I'll reserve judgement on the effectiveness and viability of the pairing as a laptop or tablet replacement once I've gotten my grubby little fingers on it, but the idea of using a cellphone as a PC engine, now that cellphones have become as powerful as the Atrix, is an amazing one.

For added convenience, inside the keyboard dock is a battery that keeps the Atrix charged, so you still have a fresh phone after it performs its imitation of a PC engine. If I'm reading my notes right, the keyboard has an 8-hour battery life. No pricing was immediately available.

Motorola touts Atrix 4G itself as the world's most powerful cellphone. Since AT&T has yet to launch its LTE network, Atrix 4G must operate on AT&T's HSPA-plus network. Last month, the ITU reversed course and conferred a sort-of official "4G" imprimatur on the otherwise 3G technology. It was unclear if the Atrix also would operate on AT&T's LTE network, due to launch this summer.

I'll have more cogent thoughts on the Atrix 4G and the Xoom tablet, once the rush of CES is over. But Motorola's mobile moves will increase speculation and pressure on Apple and its pending Verizon iPhone and iPad 2.

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