Motorola Atrix review

Dual-core Android smartphone/laptop hybrid, with Firefox browser

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For

  • Incredible versatility
  • Very powerful
  • Citrix compatibility

Against

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

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...

After blowing us away at CES,the Motorola Atrix gained the coveted top spot in the T3 Hot 100. 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.

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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.