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For six months I longed for the Motorola Atrix Android smartphone first announced in January. That was, until I got one and reality fell short of my utopian vision. Now I must beseech Motorola, telcos and Linux hackers alike to bring my dream to fruition.

 

 

Motorola hit headlines as the year kicked off by announcing a top-end high-powered Android smartphone dubbed the Atrix during CES at Las Vegas.

Dual-core processors, nVidia chipset, 1Gb internal RAM ... the specifications went on but I fell into glazed torpor as soon as I spied the collection of docking accessories designed for it.

The Atrix, you see, was no mere smartphone. It was a super device, capable of replacing your mobile phone, your laptop, your in-car navigation, your desktop computer and home media centre all with one central gadget and smart peripherals.

At least, that was the promise. Part of it is true. The HD dock will play movies, music and photographs onto a high-definition multimedia system. The car dock will give you turn-by-turn directions.

Yet, when it comes to being a laptop replacement (via the laptop dock) or desktop computer (via the HD dock and Bluetooth or USB-cabled mouse and keyboard) the Atrix comes screaming back to reality from my techno fantasy.

On the one hand, the docks are impressive. The Atrix detects what it has been plugged into and changes behaviour to suit. So, plug it into the windscreen or dash-mounted car dock and it changes from being a typical phone with tiny buttons to a compact mode with six fat man finger-sized options. Swiping left or right gives opportunity to add more and more shortcuts but the defaults allow you to call contacts with hands-free mode enabled, invoke Google navigation (or other) software and so forth. Admittedly, the car dock is pretty good.

Yet, what I really was excited by - perhaps so much that I neglected to pay attention to the detail - was the laptop dock. This is an extremely light-weight dock for the phone which looks like, well, a laptop, or perhaps more realistically a netbook. This 11" unit sports a keyboard, screen, touchpad and battery but no disk or processor of its own.


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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.

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