Motorola, Verizon Target Enterprise With $299 Droid Bionic

Will budget-conscious businesses use the LTE 4G-capable Droid Bionic and its Webtop accessories in lieu of a laptop or tablet?
Motorola Droid Bionic
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Motorola Droid Bionic
First announced at CES back in January, the Motorola Droid Bionic will finally go on sale September 8 for $299. It is Motorola's first Long Term Evolution 4G smartphone and runs Google's Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread operating system. Standout features include a dual-core TI OMAP 1-GHz processor, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, a 4.3-inch qHD display, and 1 GB of RAM. But the phone is only half the story.

Equipping mobile professionals can be a tricky task. They need to have just the right amount of technology to perform the functions essential to their job. Finding the right balance between hardware and connectivity options has probably caused more than one IT professional to pull out his or her hair.

Standard equipment these days typically includes a laptop and a smartphone. If a laptop isn't 100% necessary, it is possible you can get away with equipping workers with a tablet and a phone.

Or, pick the path Motorola and Verizon have laid out. The Droid Bionic ships with Motorola's Webtop mode and a slew of accessories that transform the Bionic from a smartphone into a Web-based computing platform.

The first and most interesting accessory is the laptop dock--or lapdock. Like with the Motorola Atrix 4G, the Droid Bionic can be inserted into a laptop shell and become the brains behind the accessory. The lapdock includes an 11.6-inch display, a full keyboard, USB ports, and enough juice to run itself and charge the Bionic at the same time. With the Webtop mode running, the lapdock opens a full Firefox 4 browsing session while still allowing all the Bionic's applications and services to run. The basic idea here is to provide a more usable mobile workstation, albeit one that is limited to Firefox and whatever software is on the Bionic.

The lapdock costs $299.97 if you buy it outright. If you buy it together with the Droid Bionic and commit to a minimum $50 monthly LTE data plan, Verizon will be kind enough to throw in a $100 mail-in rebate card, bringing the total cost down to about $500. Is this cheaper than a phone + tablet or a phone + laptop? It could be.

If that's too much money, Verizon and Motorola are also offering what's called the HD Station--or a really fancy dock. The HD Station can be used to hook the Droid Bionic up to a TV, and thanks to the HMDI port, allow it to share HD video. It also charges the Bionic and includes three USB ports (for a keyboard, mouse, etc.) and a stereo line-out. All you have to do is drop the Bionic into the dock and it automatically goes into Webtop mode.

Once the Bionic is in place and an HDMI cable plugged into your TV, simply choose the content you want to watch--be it prerecorded movies or stuff you captured with the Bionic itself. Video plays back at up to 1080p. The Bionic can also be put into mirror mode so users can see what is on the Bionic in full screen on the TV. The HD Station costs $99. It could be handy in a hotel room, for instance, to transform the room's HDTV into a computing platform. It is heavy and bulky, though, and not necessarily something I'd want in my briefcase on business trips.

If you're extremely cheap, Verizon and Motorola are also making an adapter available that will put the Droid Bionic into Webtop mode and allow it to connect with an HDTV via HDMI. It costs $29.99.

The basic pitch being offered by Motorola and Verizon Wireless here is to leave the laptop and/or tablet at home and take only the Droid Bionic out into the field with one of these accessories. It is an interesting concept, though one that Palm (remember the Foleo?) and Redfly haven't been too successful with.

The Bionic isn't all about the accessories. It also includes a handful of useful enterprise applications, including Citrix Receive and GoToMeeting, Motoprint (for in-network Wi-Fi printing), a data widget to help monitor data usage, and QuickOffice for document editing.

If your IT department is looking for ways to trim costs, there is certainly potential presented here.

At the 2011 InformationWeek 500 Conference, C-level executives from leading global companies will gather to discuss how their organizations are turbo-charging business execution and growth--how their accelerated enterprises manage cash more effectively, invest more wisely, delight customers more consistently, manage risk more profitably. The conference will feature a range of keynote, panel, and workshop sessions. St. Regis Monarch Beach, Calif., Sept. 11-13. Find out more and register.

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