Out of the box the Motorola ATRIX has that sturdy workmanlike look to it that is typically Motorola. It feels solid even though it is all plastic. At 135 grams it is actually lighter than the iPhone 4 but somehow it feels heavier..I guess it is that Motorola brawn that is misleading.
The 4″ qHD 969 x 540 screen is bright but not quite as sharp looking as it’s competitors, something you would only notice if you put the phones side by side. I have never liked Motorola’s Motoblur interface but the implementation on the ATRIX is better and with the 1 GHz dual core CPU it doesn’t slow the ATRIX down. The performance is quite snappy and screen changes and app openings are fast and smooth.
As a smartphone The Motorola ATRIX is a fine device..it feels good in the hand, operates well and the sound quality is excellent in both directions..It has a better than average 5MP rear facing camera and a front facing camera for video calls. I was however shocked at the performance on the Bell network..this is after all a 4G device. The left graphic shows performance on my home network..clearly the phone’s radio is able to handle the full bandwidth but, on the Bell HSPA+ network..the right graphic..the performance is about half what I get on a 3G phone and about a third as fast as I have seen with other 4G phones.
Still overall the Atrix is very competitive with other similar phones in the market. If that is where it ended we would all be asking “What is as all the fuss about?” It is the extras that make this quite a device.
Lets start with the DLNA server built into the phone..I found it cool that I was able to send video wirelessly from the phone to my big screen TV…way better that trying to figure out where to plug in an extra HDMI cable on an already crowded system. But the ATRIX does that too, either directly from the phone or a docking station.
That $129.95 Multimedia dock can also be used as a charging station or using the Webtop app on the phone I was able to plug the adapter via a HDMI cable to my 24″ monitor and connect a keyboard and mouse to a USB port.there are three..quite an impressive way to improve your productivity with the phone.
Then there is the Lapdock..basically a laptop shell with an adapter for the ATRIX..plug the phone in the back and you have almost a fully functioning laptop with a 11.6″ 1366 x 768 screen, a full size keyboard with a big touchpad. I found the mouse buttons stiff..I don’t like touchpads anyway..so I plugged a mouse into the Lapdock. Not only can you control the phone and all its apps in a window, there is also a full screen Firefox browser and other utilities.
This ability to turn the phone into a desktop or laptop computer is impressive and perhaps in the future we will note how Motorola led the way. But today, this first attempt falls a little short..performance is pretty sluggish and the phone is clearly working very hard…it gets quite hot..and for the $329.95 cost of the Lapdock you can get a pretty good netbook that weighs about the same but with much better performance.
I think the Motorola ATRIX is a pretty good smartphone at the right price that probably should be selling better than it is..I think the initial hype may have led people to expect too much from this device. Motorola has I believe, shown us a glimpse of the future but the price of the hardware has to come down and the performance has to improve.
The Motorola ATRIX is available exclusively from Bell Mobility for $99.95 with a 3 year contract.