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Is it a phone? Is it a netbook? No, it’s the Motorola Atrix

by Pete Mason on 10 January 2011, 20:45

Tags: Motorola (NYSE:MSI)

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Motorola had a pretty busy CES this year as it rolled out a couple of pretty substantial products. The first of these was the new Atrix handset, which the developers believe could take convergence to a whole new level.

On the outside, the phone looks like a fairly standard Android device - albeit quite a handsome one. However, it'll be powered by a currently unnamed dual-core 1GHz ARM processor, which gave it more than enough horsepower to slice through version 2.2 of the OS - although a move to Gingerbread could be on the cards by the time it launches.

The Atrix in the HDMI dock

However, there's a lot more to the Atrix than its capabilities as a phone. Motorola has also developed the snappily named 'Laptop Dock' which will essentially turn the phone into an Android powered netbook. After plugging the phone in and waiting a few seconds, a full desktop will spring up on the vibrant 1,384x768px display, with the phone's homescreen appearing in a small, movable window.

The Laptop Dock

From here, programs can be launched from the OSX-style dock or from within the phone interface, which can also be maximised across the whole display. There was even a fully featured version of Firefox loaded on the webtop environment. Of course, all of the functions of the phone are still there, so it's still possible to text, call and video chat - although the phone's cameras are obscured by the screen, meaning that a webcam would be required for the latter.

The phone fits into a special connector behind the screen

The dock itself is sleek and lightweight and we were told that the integrated battery will let you watch "two full length films" while simultaneously charging the phone. There are also a pair of USB ports for hooking up a mouse, external storage or any other peripherals that Android supports.

The rear side of the dock, complete with power connector, two USB 2.0 ports and the phone connector

Motorola has also developed an HDMI dock, which features almost the exact same functionality, but uses an HDTV as the display. A major advantage of this is that it's still possible to use the built in cameras to video chat - in fact, we had a short conversation with someone in Chicago from the show floor in Las Vegas while using the HDMI dock. Another neat feature is the ability to use the handset as a touchpad to control the pointer on the screen.

The HDMI Dock

We walked away impressed by Motorola's take on convergence, and although we're still not sure if the Atrix could convince us to leave a laptop at home, it's certainly a compelling device. The handset should be launching on AT&T in the US sometime in Q1, although pricing for the phone and the docks has yet to be announced. In the UK, Orange will be carrying the Atrix, although no time frame has been announced for the launch.

The interface when using the HDMI Dock. Notice that the normal Android display is now in a window on the left hand side

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HEXUS Forums :: 5 Comments

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I don't like how the phone connects to the laptop dock, would be better if it stid inside or something.

Other that that, all I have to say is: wow! :dribble:
Funkstar
I don't like how the phone connects to the laptop dock, would be better if it stid inside or something.

Other that that, all I have to say is: wow! :dribble:

+1 on that - I'd be worried about knocking the device and damaging the connectors. Plus I'm cynical enough to wonder how much dinero Moto would be looking for to get this dock - under £100 would be a winner as far as I'm concerned. A phone that can double as a netbook is a neat idea imho.

Just reading the review on CNetUK http://reviews.cnet.co.uk/mobile-phones/motorola-atrix-review-50002122/ and it looks like a very impressive device to me - certainly far better than the Sony Ericsson Arc which was also at CES.
I don't think you guys need to worry about the dock…



I'm not due for an upgrade for at least another 18 months. So I'll be keeping an eye out for the Atrix successor.
Want, a lot! Hope it fulfils expectations when it comes to market!
Singh400
I don't think you guys need to worry about the dock… (Engadget picture of dock+phone upside-down)
Like I said, I'd be more worried about kids/dog hitting the back and damaging the connector. Can't help thinking that being able to slot the phone into the dock (like an SD card into a reader) would have been visually “neater”.
Singh400
I'm not due for an upgrade for at least another 18 months. So I'll be keeping an eye out for the Atrix successor.
I'm with you on that (and it's 18 months to go for me too). Maybe Motorola are finally getting into their stride - be nice to see someone giving HTC a run for their money… (I discount Samsung and Sony Ericsson because of poor software support).

I wonder if Three would let me buy out my contract early… :telephone: