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Droid Bionic owners beware: Not all Motorola Lapdocks are created equal

As I sat in the theater at the AT&T developers conference just before CES this year, Motorola announced the Atrix. A decent looking, crazy-powerful phone that was coming to help shore up AT&T’s lineup now that Verizon was getting the iPhone. Cool enough phone, I thought, but what makes it special? My question was answered almost immediately when among the accessories for the phone came an entire laptop. The Motorola Lapdock is a cool idea by anyone’s imagining, albeit not their best seller. To help with this, Motorola stated that the Lapdock accessory would become available for all future Android smartphones (as would WebTop).

Fast forward to this week, when Verizon’s Lapdock-worthy smartphone finally made it to market. The Droid Bionic is powerful enough when you consider it is the first dual-core 4G LTE smartphone. Add onto it that one of the accessories turns it into a laptop, and you’ve got a pretty cool handset for the student on the go or the savvy jetsetter, right? As it turns out, there’s a kind of hitch.

Upon receiving the Bionic, one of the first things I wanted to do was stick it in the Lapdock for the Motorola Atrix and give it a whirl. The Lapdock’s larger screen, 10+ hours of battery life, and the ability to browse on a proper web browser are pretty appealing features to have with you on the go. Plus the Lapdock is smaller than a Chromebook or Macbook Air, and just as light. A funny thing happened when I tried, though. It turns out that the HDMI port and the MicroUSB ports are flipped backwards compared to the Atrix.

This means that if you have an Atrix dock, or if you tried to get one on the cheap from eBay, or maybe you decided to make the switch from AT&T to Verizon because they have a phone that supports this $300 accessory, you’re out of luck.

Why have Motorola and/or Verizon chosen to do this? What benefit could there be to have an entirely separate product that is imperceptibly identical until you try to use it on something else? I find it hard to believe that the profit margins would be affected so badly that it was decided that a different model was needed to keep those tricky consumers from trying to sneak one by.

Neither Verizon nor Motrola have offered a statement to explain the reason for this, but for now be careful when ordering a Lapdock for your Motorola smartphone, because it might not be the right one.