Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing??


The most exciting thing I saw at CES was the Motorola Atrix. Taken on its own it is a nice Android handset that, running a dual-core processor, screams. Taken in the context of all its accessories, from the laptop dock to the media cradle, it is an amazing piece of technology. With the Atrix and its accessories your phone can effectively become the brain for ALL your computing. What was not clear at the time was when the handset would be released and what it would cost.
Well the word is out and, once again, the response proves that there is never a way to make everyone happy.

On contract the phone will be just $199. $199 for a phone with a dual core processor. AWESOME. The dock will cost $500 but that drops down to $300 so long as the consumer also takes the Data Pro plan and the tethering add-on plan for $20 a month for 24 months.

The end result is that for $500 you get a powerhouse of a phone and a laptop dock. Yes, you need to add-on a tethering plan but lets face it, the data plans for phones are intended FOR PHONES. They are not intended for phones that will power laptops. That combination will use a whole lot more data. Then again, the $20 tethering plan is less than I pay for data on my iPad each month.

But you can never make people happy. As a result we find

“there has been a lot of chatter on the Internet about the high cost of the laptop dock solution…”

And then later

“What’s even more ridiculous is that despite the fact that mobile computing power, when docked to the laptop dock, will be coming from the Tegra 2-enabled Atrix 4G as the laptop dock itself doesn’t have its own OS or processor–it’s just a screen, keyboard, dock, and extended battery–AT&T will be forcing users to purchase the regular 2 GB metered data plan and also the tethering plan for an additional 2 GB per month and $25 in subscription cost.”

Or there is this

So effectively the laptop dock is $500 bucks, for which price you could buy a real laptop, an iPad, an Android tablet…

BUT you are NOT getting a “real” laptop, an iPad or an Android tablet. You ARE GETTING brand new hardware, the ability to have your phone also function as your laptop… And desktop. This is early adopter-ville and it COST MONEY to get the latest technology NOW. Do people expect such things to be free? Seriously??

At $500 for the combination I think the Atrix remains an intriguing option… And a taste of what is to come. And if it seems outrageous to you I think there are still some slightly used Moto Razrs available on eBay.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

16 Comments on "Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing??"

  1. Bit of a strawman here. Nobody is expecting it for free. If they sold it for $300 or even $400 I don’t think there’d be nearly as many complaints. let’s step back a bit and examine what the laptop dock is: a larger screen, a large keyboard, a battery, a couple USB ports, and a dock for the Atrix. There’s no on-board processor or storage, no WiFi or other radio chipsets. What can we compare this to?

    Well, for starters… how about a Celio RedFly? And, hey look, Clinton did an extensive review on it! How much was that… let’s see… $500. Admittedly, the screen on the Atrix’s dock is bigger, as well as the keyboard (the latter a natural outcome of the former). But really, are you suggesting that almost three years later a company as large as Motorola couldn’t make these for cheaper and still make a pretty penny on them? Heck, even the second generation Celio RedFly was $250, just a year later! 2009! A year and a half ago! And that worked with both Windows Mobile and BlackBerry phones! I don’t think we’ll be lucky enough for the Atrix Laptop dock to work with any other Android phone, much less those of a different operating system.

    Okay, okay, so that’s some two-bit, fly-by-night company, right? Celio doesn’t seem to have any RedFlys in stock themselves at this point, so even though they were a couple years ahead of the curb with a cheaper equivalent they’re not a fair comparison, right? Right. How about Motorola’s HD Multimedia Dock, the one that turns the Atrix into a desktop? It’s got 3 USB ports, video out, and…. that’s it. So we’re missing the screen, the keyboard, and the battery. Now, how much does the Multimedia Dock cost? Well, AT&T’s own press release states that “AT&T is also offering an Entertainment Access Kit for ATRIX customers which includes the Motorola HD Multimedia Dock, a Bluetooth® keyboard and mouse, and a remote control for $189.99.” Now, let’s break this down. Let’s say that AT&T is stiffing us on the remote control would cost $10 (Apple’s costs $19), and that the keyboard ( is $50 (Apple’s is $70). Mouse… we’ll call it another $10 (Really, that’d be an awesome steal for a Bluetooth mouse). Why am I low-balling these accessories? Because I’m trying to inflate the cost of the final piece, the dock.

    When we take those three bits out of the equation, we’re left with $120 for the HD Multimedia Dock. So, my question is, should that laptop dock be priced an extra $380 for a screen, battery, and keyboard? Not “and mobility” because it’s those three components themselves that provide mobility. Now, there are some rumors (due to some small websites posting up prices) that the HD Dock is going to retail for around $60. I’d take that with a mound of salt. But if that really is the case, then are those extra components worth $440? Some people would say, “Absolutely!” Some people would say, “Absolutely not!”. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. But I thought it’s important to examine this a bit more closely.

  2. Also, I take issue with this statement: “Yes, you need to add-on a tethering plan but lets face it, the data plans for phones are intended FOR PHONES. They are not intended for phones that will power laptops.” If were were talking about an unlimited plan, like the original iPhone plan, that would make sense. People tethering their connection would naturally use more. But when they switched to tiered plans with no extra data, that was ridiculous. Oh sure, from a business standpoint, it’s a great idea. A ton of people on the 2GB plan will never come close to it. Free money right there! But from a consumer standpoint? Uh-uh.

    Data is data. It shouldn’t matter how you access it. When AT&T initially stated 2GB for the iPhone, plus an extra $20/mo for tethering with no extra data, you know what I did? I used those 2GB. As close as I dared to without going over the limit. Streaming audio, streaming video, remote desktop, the works. And I told all my friends to do the same thing. Because frankly, it’s a bunch of bullflop. If you don’t like the idea that someone’s going to actually use what you give them, fine. Give them less. Give people a 1GB option or 500MB option – and let them tether. AT&T’s extra 2GB for tethering is a step in the right direction. But, believe me when I say, until they free up tethering for everyone, I (and quite a few people) will be squeezing every last byte they can out of their data plans.

  3. Strawman??? Okay you caught me. 🙂

    Sure I overstated it a bit… Or more than a bit but I do think the reaction has been a bit much. $500 for a high-end dual-core phone and a laptop dock seems quite reasonable to me. I mean, the least expensive iPad is $499, $630 if you want integrated 3G and then the service costs each month.

    I think Motorola did create a bit of their own PR issue here when they said, $500 bundled or $500 for the dock alone. After all, no one but someone who buys the Atrix is buying the laptop dock so adding the “buy-it-alone” just threw the dollar signs in front of people unnecessarily. They would have been better off saying- the Atrix is $199 on contract and $499 bundled with the laptop dock. At that price, and worded like that I don’t think there would be nearly as much noise here.

    As you said, this DOES bring the Celio to mind but it was a far cheaper piece of kit. I have a Celio at home and it feels like a toy while I saw the Atrix lapdock and it feels like a substantial accessory. (I look forward to shooting some pictures of the two side-by-side.

    The multimedia dock is a different case and it does fall into the “let’s get every penny we can out of the consumer” category. Then again, branded accessories tend to always be a bit of a ripoff. Just look at Apple’s iPad accessories or Samsung’s tab accessories. Rip-off city. BUT, and I think this is a huge but, they are device-specific accessories from the company itself and that is, unfortunately, the norm. If someone doesn’t like the price-point they simply don’t need to buy it.

    The bottom line for me is this, this is a VERY specific device and anyone buying it should not be surprised that it is not $99. On the same note, I have a pre-release version of the new HTC Inspire and it will be $99 on contract. Such pricing is great but it does create unrealistic expectations among consumers..

    All that noted… your points are well taken. Thanks for the comment, it is great to have people like you reading, and commenting, on the site.

  4. “Data is data. It shouldn’t matter how you access it.” I AGREE but it is not currently the world we live in. Right now I pay for my cable, my iPhone data plan and my iPad data plan. It ticks me off but it is just the way it is right now, So this move did not surprise me in the least and, in keeping with the way things CURRENTLY are, seems more consistent.

    I LOVE the fact that you use as much of your 2GB as possible and tell others to do the same!!!!! Would make a great opinion/call to action post if you were interested in sharing more….

  5. RT @GearDiarySite: GD QuickRant- Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing??

  6. GD QuickRant- Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing?? #gadgets

  7. GD QuickRant- Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing??

  8. RT @gadgetfreaks: GD QuickRant- Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing?? #gadgets

  9. Christopher Gavula | February 5, 2011 at 9:05 pm |

    I guess I’m missing the point. All I see is a phone powering a keyboard/screen/ports. Quality or not – It doesn’t strike me as anything new or even all that impressive. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I really just don’t think this product will take off – the tech geeks will like it – the masses will probably ignore it. Just my opinion.

  10. It may not take off Chris… That waits to be seen.

    This, though, is the difference to my mind.

    All the previous attempts to do this basically seemed to blow up the phone’s screen. This, on both the laptop dock and the TV dock, presents you with the phone on your screen AND a full desktop web browsing experience. With more and more people doing more and more in the cloud they can effectively do a huge percent of what they normally do computer using their phone as the brain… Which leads to the other big difference. The Atrix has a dual-core processor. BlackBerry + Celio is not anywhere in the same league as dual-core Android plus full desktop browser.

    Again, whether it takes off or not waits to be seen but the ability for this to really bring a merger between mobile computing and traditional desktop or laptop computing is pretty impressive when you see it in person.

  11. RT @geardiarysite: GD QuickRant- Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing??

  12. Sure, the RedFly honestly probably wasn’t that great a comparison; a better one would have been the 2007 Palm Foleo (at least in terms of fit and finish) if it weren’t for the fact that it sadly never came to market. I believe that at the time the price centered around $600 for the Foleo, and it did have its own ARM cpu, onboard storage, and WiFi. It’s really too bad that they just missed the netbook craze, though even the “netbooks” took a while to creep past the $400.

    Still, that the Atrix dock is overall a much better than the RedFly isn’t really cause for celebration; imagine the uproar if the quality of the dock didn’t even surpass Celio’s device three years later! I think the safest course of action would have been to state that the dock was only exclusively as a bundle for the first couple of months, and they were still deciding on a standalone price for it. Then they could sell it separately for $350, perhaps $400 on its own. I’m not claiming it should be $100, or even $200. $250, in my opinion, would have been terrific; $300-350, acceptable; and $400 really the upper limit on this.

  13. I am tempted by it, but The older I get the less willing I am to buy rev. 1 stuff. Then again, as you said this price point is for early adopters (i.e. the 22 year old me, not the 44 year old me). Looks like a fair price compared to the iPhone, random smartbooks and varied Nokia offerings. I look forward to seeing what the equivalent costs next year.

  14. GD QuickRant- Seriously People, You Want Something for Nothing …: You ARE GETTING brand new hardware, the abil…

  15. I agree that moto’s better approach would have been to offer three or four different bundles and that is it. At the same time, I still think the phone and the laptop dock is not unreasonable at $499.

  16. I don’t have a problem with the phone and laptop dock combo for $499. None whatsoever. My problem – and most other people’s problem it seems like – is that if you decide later on that you want the laptop dock, or you don’t want to be locked into two years of $45/mo for 4GB of tether-sanctioned data, they will be charging you $500 for that separately.

    …actually, what would happen if you cancelled the tethering part? Usually only data plans are mandated; my experience has been that you can sign up for and cancel tethering as you please. I wonder if the contract for the Atrix is going to look different?

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