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November 12, 2011

Review Gadget : Review Motorola Atrix

The Motorola Atrix is a killer Android smartphone, decent laptop and a powerful media hub all-in-one, or at least that's the idea Motorola is pushing...

Motorola Atrix review


  • Incredible versatility
  • Very powerful
  • Citrix compatibility


  • The docks push the price up
  • Poor-ish camera

After blowing us away at CES,the Motorola Atrix gained the coveted top spot in the New Affiliate Centre. It’s the latest in a line of successful devices from Motorola, including the first Honeycomb tablet the Motorola Xoom (full Motorola Xoom review here) and the rugged Motorola Defy.
But it’s the Atrix that is Motorola’s crown jewel. First and foremost this is powerful, dualcore smartphone. Add a series of docks, however to the USB and HDMI connections and it comes a multimedia hub, or even a 11.6-inch laptop. You can also transform it into an alarm clock.

Motorola Atrix: Android 2.2
Solid and well built, the Atrix 2.2 and exudes a restrained air of competence and power, a bit like a top-class bodyguard. It dresses all in black like one, too.  Running Android 2.2 - Froyo - overlaid with Motoblur, the Morotola Atrix offers excellent Twitter and Facebook integration and useful Motorola widgets.
The four-inch, 960x540 touchscreen is responsive, bright, with bold colours. There’s less fine detail than on the Apple iPhone 4, but the slightly larger size and very pure whites do go some way towards making up for that.
The speaker on the back ridge musters an excellent volume level. Quality is also good, if not exceptional, through the 3.5mm headphone jack output. The 5-megapixel camera can capture 720p movies, they’re a little soft and although colours are bright, the colour balance notivably shifted a couple of times depending on the light, although this could be because of our sample was an early one.
Motorola Atrix: Performance 
The dualcore Tegra 2 processor never feels slow. You can quickly swap between open browser windows, maps, games and video playback without it batting an eyelid. At the moment there aren’t many games or apps that make the most of the extra processing oomph, although it handles Samuari II Vengeance very well, with smooth motion and bold graphics.
Dock the Atrix in the Lapdock or HDMI-connected Multimedia Dock (see below for more information about the individual docks), select the Webtop mode and things get seriously next-gen. On the bigger screen, app shortcuts are arranged along the bottom. You can also add bookmarks or web apps; settings are accessed in the top corner.
If you prefer something more familiar, Mobile View displays a mini version of the Atrix’s home screen. There, you can click any app as normal and use phone features including calls – a pop-up box indicates an incoming call and you get decent call quality through the mic and speaker – contacts and mail. It’s easy enough, even if it’s unsurprisingly not as slick as a proper laptop OS. If a smartphone screen isn't big enough, you can even play Angry Birds.
You can read and edit email attachments using Quick Office, access web-based apps such as Google Docs and Sugar Sync and, if your business uses Citrix,you can remotely access a full Windows desktop, so you can open and use PowerPoint and Word documents – a very simple yet powerful feature. You can copy and paste elements from Citrix to Webtop, save to the phones memory where you can access it via the File Manger or transfer to USB.
The docks also give you a full-screen Firefox browser. This works a treat on both our 42-inch TV and Moto’s 11.6-inch Lapdock, streaming T3.com, YouTube and BBC iPlayer at speed over the N Wi-Fi. Motorola’s slick Entertainment Centre also makes a good fist of showcasing your phone’s media files.

Motorola Atrix: Multimedia Dock in detail
The HD Multimedia Dock includes Dual HDMI mini and micro USB connections let you dock the Atrix and connect the dock to your flatscreen via mini HDMI Three USB ports let you add accessories like a mouse or by a USB key for saving and accessing data. To get the best of it you really need a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, otherwise you have to use left and right virtual keys and move around the 4-inch screen.
Display Settings adjust automatically. The max resolution we could watch on a 42-inch TV was 1280x720p at 60Hz, picture quality is pretty good though and it plays back audio through your TV. Big-screen options make this a more inclusive way of sharing phone content, perhaps killing the All-In-One?
To get the best from the Multimedia Dock you need the mouse and keyboard. Motorola’s wireless mouse is solid, comfortable and works on a variety of surfaces. We could even use it from ten feet across our kitchen, at an angle. The keyboard is light enough to use comfortably on your lap, but the keys remain a good size for prolonged typing. Dedicated music, SMS, contacts and browser keys work in Mobile View mode.
Motorola Atrix: Lapdock
So to the Lapdock. This has a flap at the back for your Atrix, this restricts how far the screen can go back and it would be better if it docked below the keyboard and became the touchpad, but maybe that’s a few incarnations away yet. Everything looks bright and clear enough on the 11.6-inch, 1366x768 screen and the keys are a good size, with a decent travel. It’s not as slick as a Windows or OS X laptop, but it is a very cool bit of kit
Motorola Atrix: Verdict
The Atrix is a great phone if you can ignore its slightly ropey camera. Arguably only business users will make full use of the Lapdock, but the HD Multimedia Dock is an excellent alternative to Apple’s iPhone/AirPlay/Apple TV system
for getting your phone’s content on a big screen and hi-fi. It’s not as neat and seamless, but the quality is comparable and it’s cheaper.
Motorola Atrix launch date: Soon from Orange
Motorola Atrix price:  Phone TBC, HD Multimedia Dock, free with £40 a month contract, £50 as a kit with mouse and keyboard. Lapdock £299; Bedside Dock; bundled with the phone.
Updated: We first saw the Motorola Atrix at CES last month and today, T3 got a closer look at what Motorola calls ‘the most powerful smartphone in the world’ and it's huge range of docking excitement

Motorola Atrix review


  • Incredible versatility
  • Very powerful
  • Citrix compatibility


  • The docks push the price up
  • Poor-ish camera
What sets the Atrix 4G apart are its webtop capabilities, which really do close the gap between smartphone and computer? As a phone it’s a powerful dual-core handset, running Froyo, but pair it with one of the three docks including: the Desk Dock, Laptop Dock and Multimedia Dock and it functions like a computer.
Designed to sit my the side of your bed or on a desk, the Desk Dock charges the handset, weather widgets on view, or alternatively you can choose to keep the screen dark, useful if you want to position the dock on the side of your bed.

A more portable solution is the Motorola Laptop dock, which has an 11.6-inch screen, keyboard, eight-hour battery, trackpad and stereo speakers. It’s basically a laptop shell without the processor; instead plug the Motorola Atrix into a flip-out dock at the back to power it. It’s not until you pick the Laptop Dock up, that you appreciate how thin it is, it’s certainly been inspired by MacBook in design and feels far lighter to carry on business trips than a full laptop.

Connections on the Multimedia Dock include: HDMI mini, 3.5mm and three USB ports, into which a wireless mouse adaptor can fit into.

Usefully when you swap between the Multimedia and Laptop dock, Atrix remembers what program you last using, be it maps, email or music, so next time you launch the Webtop application you can carry on where you left off. Conversely, when you finish a session on one of the docks, the Atrix saves your bookmarks.

Motorola Atrix: Webtop

When the Atrix is docked in the Multimedia or Laptop Dock a two options appear providing two: Webtop or Entertainment Centre. Select Webtop and a large Moto M appears on the TV screen, from here the Phone mode box automatically pops up, showing the Atrix homescreen, which you can choose to view vertically, horizontally and full screen. Google Maps in particular look great in full screen.
Along the bottom are a selection of options (similar to Apple’s OSX dock), with options including: Phonebook, Messages, Contacts, Browser, Entertainment Centre and Facebook. Pretty much everything is accessible within a few clicks, so you don’t have to delve into menus.

When a call comes through a pop-up box appears on the screen, click to take the call and you can use the Multimedia dock’s built-in speaker. Alternatively you can use headphones or a Bluetooth headset.

A highlight of the Atrix is the full Firefox browser, with includes tabs and flash video support and at full screen is really impressive. The Entertainment Centreis the portal for viewing photos, watching videos and listening to music. It also plays in the background, while you are doing other things.

Clearly targeting business users, the Atrix has Citrix support. Businesses that have subscribed to this cloud-based service enables can sign in and access a full version of Windows 7. It’s incredibly interesting and certainly could be the way that software is used in future. Consumer users get Google Docs and Quick Office support.

Motorola’s supplied a selection of navigation options for the Atrix. Once docked the touchscreen of the Atrix becomes a mouse for navigation, it’s not the most practical or quick method, but does mean people don’t have to invest in another peripheral.

Alternatively there’s a Bluetooth keyboard, which is a good size and includes Android keys, you can also use a Bluetooth mouse and there’s also a small remote, with basic controls.

There’s no news on prices for the docks yet, or whether they’ll be bundled with the remote control. At launch CEO Sanjay Jha, said the total cost of ownership of dock will be ‘meaningfully less than any proposal, which is a slimline PC,’ which doesn’t really give much indication, but we're hoping they mean competitive.

Motorola Atrix: The handset

Running Android 2.2 (a 2.3 upgrade will be on the way soon), the Atrix 4G looks like a fairly innocuous handset and with its black styling, looks similar to the Defy. At 135g and just 11mm deep, it’s surprisingly lightweight, and perhaps not as solid  as the Milestone.

At the heart of the Atrix 4G is an Nvidia Tegra 2 Core 2 Duo processor, comprising of two 1Ghz processors. Motorola claims it can open web pages twice as quickly as normal phone and certainly it seemed quick during our time with the handset.

The Motorola Atrix 4G has a qHD screen with a resolution of 960x540, it is certainly bright and sharp and at 4-inches it’s a good size for movie playback. Touch commands work well too.

The fingerprint reader is impressive too, turn the handset on, swipe the top and the phone unlocks, the convenient control positioning means it’s much quicker than pressing a button and swiping the centre of the screen.

Other features of the Motorola Atrix 4G include 1GB RAM, a 5MP primary and VGA secondary cameras and 720p movie shooting at 30fps. There’s 16GB internal memory and a microSD slot.
We’re really excited by the Atrix 4G, it really has the potential to transform the way we work. Imagine you’re visiting a hotel for business, but instead of plugging your laptop into a network to browse the web or email, you simply plug the handset into a HDMI port. OK, you’d need a mouse or keyboard, but potentially your phone could do the jobs currently fulfilled by your laptop and in particular netbook.

The Atrix 4G will be available in Q1 this year and is launching on Orange in the UK; there’s no news on pricing for then handset yet.

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