Motorola Atrix review
Is it a media player?
We have fewer misgivings about the HD Multimedia Dock. At only £78 it’s much cheaper than the Lapdock, and you can also get it bundled with a £40 per month Orange contract as part of its Atrix Work & Play kit (along with the more basic charger dock, plus a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse).
It’s a cradle for the Atrix that sports three USB 2 ports, a 3.5mm audio output and an HDMI connector for hooking up to a TV or monitor. When you drop in the phone, it outputs to the big screen with the option of a TV-friendly media-centre interface. It’s still as sluggish in general use as with the Lapdock, but 1080p video streamed smoothly at up to 1080p.
But can it work as a replacement for a proper media streamer or media-centre PC? The answer is no, principally because it baulked at so many video formats. Some WMV and MP4 files played, but we tried a selection of MKVs, AVCHD MPEG4s and HD MPEG2 files, none of which worked. Plus, there’s no streaming integration with online services such as BBC iPlayer or YouTube, or DLNA support for streaming from other PCs or NAS drives.
Or is it just a phone?
Of the Atrix’s three core functions, it’s only really the smartphone part that succeeds. The chassis isn’t as sleek as the iPhone 4, but we like the soft-touch plastic and the fake carbon-effect patterning.
Its 4in Gorilla Glass screen is the highlight, sporting a 960 x 540 (quarter Full HD) resolution that comes as close to the iPhone 4’s pixel density as any smartphone has managed so far. The sub-pixel array has an extra white pixel for every RGB triplet, which makes things slightly grainy up-close, but it does give it a tremendous 598cd/m[sup]2[/sup] maximum brightness. It isn’t as colourful as the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S II, but it’s pin-sharp, and all those extra pixels make the Android desktop feel roomier than usual.
Thanks to a dual-core 1GHz Tegra II processor, performance in Android 2.2 is fantastic, with menus and web pages responding the instant you push, pull or pinch them. The Atrix loaded the BBC desktop homepage in an average of six seconds, and gained a respectable 2,779 points in the Android-specific Quadrant test. It isn’t quite up there with the 1.2GHz dual-core Galaxy S II, but it isn’t far off it.
After our 24-hour run-down test the Atrix retained 60% battery life to the Samsung’s 50%. But the 5-megapixel, 720p camera can’t match the Samsung’s 8-megapixel, 1080p unit. Stills and movies look fine in good light, but they’re much grainier and noisier than the Samsung’s (and the iPhone 4’s) in low light. The dual-LED flash helps, but not much.
No Motorola smartphone would be complete without the Motoblur Android skin, and you also get Swype. It’s also worth noting the unusual power switch, which doubles as a fingerprint reader for quickly unlocking the phone.
The Motorola Atrix on its own would have looked excellent had the faster Samsung Galaxy S II not raised the bar this month. As it is, it looks good, which for a minimum £35 per month doesn’t exactly set our pulses racing.
As for the whole Atrix ecosystem, we really do like the concept – after all, who wouldn’t want to merge laptop, PC, media centre and phone? Alas, none of it works well enough, and the prices are far too high to offer any kind of “give it a go” appeal. We applaud Motorola for trying, but for true mobile computing we recommend you stick to a smartphone and netbook.
|Cheapest price on contract||Free|
|Contract monthly charge||£35.00|
|Contract period||24 months|
|Talk time, quoted||9hrs|
|Standby, quoted||16 days, 17hrs|
|Dimensions||64 x 11.5 x 118mm (WDH)|
|Camera megapixel rating||5.0mp|
|Resolution||540 x 960|
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