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Monday, April 25, 2011

Motorola Atrix 4G (AT&T;)

AT&T’s Dockable Atrix 4G: Impressive Phone, but No Genre Breaker
A lot of exhilaration surrounded the Motorola Atrix at the Consumer Electronics show in January. It appeared to be not just another phone, but the cornerstone of a new concept that might deliver the mobility of a smartphone and the superior usability of a laptop in a single product.
Still, the Atrix itself is a well-built addition to AT&T's growing line up of Android phones. The phone is one of the first AT&T phones to be branded "4G", and the connection speeds I saw from the phone, while not quite 4G-like, were much faster than the 3G speeds we've measured from the AT&T network in the past.

The Atrix is unexpectedly svelte at 0.4 inch thick. It is 2.5 inches wide and 4.6 inches tall, and weighs roughly 4.8 ounces. The front of the phone features a 4-inch qHD (Quarter High Definition) touchscreen display, with a set of physical buttons beneath the screen for menu (contextual), home, return, and search. At the top are the proximity sensor and the front-facing camera. On the right edge of the phone you'll find only the volume rocker; on the left bottom edge are the HDMI and USB ports. A standard 3.5mm headphone jack occupies the top edge.
Docking and ‘WebTop' Functions

Many people love the mobility of a smartphone but dislike the difficulty of performing important tasks on such a small interface. Addressing this issue, Motorola designed the Atrix to slide into a Motorola "laptop dock," which is really just a shell containing a screen, a keyboard, speakers, and a touchpad. You cannot use the laptop unless the phone is docked in place. Part of the reason that the Atrix uses a powerful dual-core processor is so that it can run full-size apps on the enlarged user environment of the laptop screen.
Another accessory enables you to do all of these things with your desktop computer display and keyboard. The smaller "multimedia dock" connects with your monitor and keyboard via the USB ports on its back. You can plug the multimedia dock into your HDTV via an HDMI connection to play high-quality content from the phone on the big screen.
OS and User Interface

The Atrix ships with Android 2.2 (Froyo), not with the more recent Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). So the phone does not support SIM calling, near-field communications (NFC) for mobile payments, or the enhanced front-facing camera technology that Gingerbread offers. Still, Android running on the dual-core processor is a very nice (and responsive) environment to work in.

The Atrix sports a 5-megapixel camera with automatic focus and an LED flash. I was pleased with the quality of the photos I shot. The first thing I noticed was the accuracy of the auto-focus: The camera seemed to adjust quickly as I moved the lens farther away from or closer to my subject, accounting for and correcting my intentionally sloppy technique. I noticed no motion blur in the images, and the resulting photos seemed perfectly focused, with sharp colors.
Battery Life

With all of the heavy lifting that the Atrix is designed to do (shooting and playing high-definition video, running a full-size browser on a large display, multitasking, and so on), it's a good thing that Motorola put in an extra large battery. The 1930-mAh battery, Motorola says, is good for 8.8 hours of talk time and 264 hours of standby time.
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