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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Motorola Atrix 4G & Laptop Dock Hands-on Preview

The Motorola Atrix 4G may be my favorite gadget of the show thus far. It’s a high-end Android device for AT&T that features a 1GHz dual-core processor, but the most interesting part of the phone may be the fact that it can do what Motorola is calling ‘webtop technology‘. You can connect the phone to a laptop dock, or a desktop dock with a monitor and keyboard and use it as a desktop computer. Is this the future of computing?

Motorola Atrix 4G Laptop Dock Hands On Image at CES 2011 header

Like the Motorola Xoom (see our earlier hands-on of that), Motorola isn’t letting us get our hands on the device. We could use the desktop or laptop docks, but unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to directly handle the phones. I was able to check out the Android phone operating system on the laptop dock.

When Motorola first announced the webtop technology at the press conference – I wasn’t keen on the idea of using Android on a system with a keyboard and mouse. But, the real appeal, in my opinion, is the ideal of uncompromised mobile computing. They showed at the press conference, you could start working on the desktop dock, then – pop out the phone, put it into the laptop dock, and keep moving on the go. All of it uninterrupted – the same session.

The dual core 1GHz processor seemed fast – Motorola does claim it’s the world’s fastest smartphone. But, I did notice some lag and unresponsiveness when it was connected to the webtop dock and was being used on the big Dell 27-inch monitors. So, it’s not flawless, but I think will be good enough for most users.

With Citrix remote desktoping technology, you’ll be able to link into other computers (Windows, what not) and get a ‘full’ computing experience on the Atrix. And with the usual expansion ports, you’ll be able to attach an external hard drive and get even more storage for your Android computer. It’s pretty cool – the Atrix is impressive and, as mentioned, could be my top gadget of the show.

The device is coming in Q1 2011 on AT&T. Pricing hasn’t been announced for the phone or any of the docks (“Talk to AT&T”, said the Motorola rep). Motorola didn’t say if the webtop technology could be applied to other phones, but they made it pretty clear this will be exclusive to the Atrix for a while, and the Atrix will be an AT&T exclusive for a while, too.


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