Atrix 4G to sell for $200; AT&T to start pre-orders Feb. 13

Bundled with laptop dock, Atrix will sell for $500 after rebate

AT&T said it will start taking pre-orders of the Motorola Atrix 4G smartphone on Feb. 13, with the carrier selling the Android 2.2 device for $199.99 with a two-year agreement.

AT&T will also bundle the Atrix with its unique Motorola laptop dock for $499.99 for both, subject to a two-year contract and a $100 rebate, as well as a Data Pro smartphone data plan and a tethering add-on. The 2-pound laptop dock, which looks like a laptop but has no CPU, can also be bought separately for $499.99.

The Atrix 4G is expected to be available March 6 or earlier at AT&T and other retailers.

Motorola and AT&T showed the Atrix and its dock at the International CES trade show and demonstrated how the two can be connected to a full-size monitor, keyboard and mouse.

Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha has said that IT managers will appreciate the docking feature because it will eliminate the need to support multiple computing devices in workplaces. Atrix also comes with a fingerprint reader for fast unlocking of the device and greater security , another lure for enterprise buyers.

The Atrix smartphone functions as the engine for the laptop dock, since it runs a 1GHz dual-core processor for a total of 2 GHz of processing power, Motorola said. An application called Webtop connects the phone with the laptop dock.

The AT&T's 4G network runs over HSPA+ with theoretical speeds of 21 Mbit/sec., although average speeds can be half as much. AT&T said such coverage is not available everywhere since fiber or Ethernet backhaul cables must be connected to cell towers.

In addition to the bundled pricing for the laptop dock and Atrix, AT&T will also offer an HD Multimedia dock, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and remote control that are sold separately from the smartphone for $189.99.

On Wednesday, AT&T announced its new Mobile Hotspot capability as well as the HTC Inspire 4G smartphone , both of which will be available on Feb. 13. The Hotspot application will also be available on the Atrix. AT&T will sell the Inspire for $99.99 with a two-year service agreement.

That hotspot ability allows the Atrix and Inspire to connect multiple users to the phones via Wi-Fi. Bundled with a Data Pro plan, the service offers 4GB for $45 per month for all the connected devices. Overage fees will be $10 per gigabyte.

The new Mobile Hotspot service replaces an earlier approach that took Wi-Fi tethering costs from the DataPro plan, which had a charge of $25 a month for 2GB.

AT&T said Wednesday it will eventually offer the Wi-Fi tethering plan for Apple's iPhone and for Android smartphones, but did not give a date.

The Atrix 4G comes with a 4-in. display and 1GB of RAM and up to 48 GB of available memory. A front-facing VGA video camera is also included. More information is available on AT&T's Web site .

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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