We were lucky enough to have a private sit down with two Motorola executives on the last day we were together at CES. With Motorola grabbing so much of the excitement and attention this year time was at a premium for them yet they were kind enough to get us in at the last-minute and spend over an hour showing off the two biggest announcements they had this year. We had not planned on a private sit down with Moto but we were glad it happened.
During our meeting we got the full low down on the Best of Show CES 2011 Xoom tablet, as well as their new Atrix Superphone. They gave us their spiel and then we spent the remainder of the hour drilling them with all the questions we could possibly think of… And there were many. For the most part Dan’s non-technical questions were answered while, time and again, Francis’ direct and very technical questions were met with a response of “we do not discuss specific technical specs that involve our 3rd party vendors.” That’s didn’t stop Francis from pushing though.
It might sound like an hour is a long time to demo two units but while it WAS enough time to get a good impression of the devices we were so impressed with what we saw that it simply left us wanting more.
While both devices will be shipping in the next 90 days the Xoom, or more accurately, the Honeycomb version of Android that it is running, is not quite ready for consumers. As such we were shown real-time video of a number of the tablet’s functions. It let us see how remarkably fast and polished the upcoming tablet-only version of Android will be. Yes, the clips showed enough functionality of Android Honeycomb to win us both over… Even the iPad fanatic among us.
Both devices run the new dual-core processor and sport 1 GB of RAM. Yes, you read that right, the tablet AND the phone have the same RAM as most netbooks and are faster! As we were told repeatedly, with these new devices the line between phone and computer has been permanently blurred.
We were also impressed with the design and build of the devices. Apple is known for its remarkable attention to industrial design and aesthetics. And for good reason! With these releases, however, Motorola has proven that Apple doesn’t have such things as their exclusive domain! Both products are exceptionally well-built. They feature heavy-duty metallic casings and have Corning Gorilla glass covering their screens. Despite the rugged build quality of the devices they didn’t feel heavy. In fact, the Xoom is a bit lighter than the iPad and the Atrix was surprisingly light in the hand.
Here are some thoughts, and exclusive videos, of our hands on experience.
In this post… The Atrix.
The new Atrix sets the standard for Android phones in 2011. They are calling it the “Most Powerful Smartphone Ever”. We are calling it… Wow. The phone itself is quite nice but when used in conjunction with some of the unique peripherals that have been created to leverage its power… WOW.
This is a phone that can quickly become a desktop or laptop computing device. We kid you not.
Here’s our video look follow by more pictures and details.
Desktop? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Desktop
With the dock you can connect your phone to a keyboard, mouse, and a High Def monitor. This creates a full desktop experience that is powered by your phone. In many regards however it is far better than a desktop experience. You see, while docked, the phone screen is visible on the monitor and can be fully controlled by either the handheld’s touchscreen or through the use of the keyboard and mouse. We have seen examples of docks that recreate the small handheld’s screen on a larger device. That is NOT what is going on here. Rather than simply blowing up the view of your phone on-screen, The Atrix provides a full dual-mode view that present you with both the phone’s screen AND a full desktop (not mobile) version of Mozilla’s Firefox. This is the same version of Firefox that currently run on your desktop computer today and it includes full Flash 10.1 and tabbed browsing.
The result is that the phone can be used for cloud-based computing of the type Google has been targeting for the upcoming Chrome OS. Motorola got there first and the experience is excellent. (More on that in a moment.)
The experience created by this phone-as-desktop is also notable because the phone provides constant connectivity through its powerful radios AND it brings GPS location tools along for the ride.
During the demo, I (Dan) successfully used LogMeIn to connect to my home iMac in New Jersey. I was able to navigate around my desktop as if I was sitting at home in front of it. While I do this all the time using my iPhone and iPad this was an entirely different experience since it allowed me to use a full desktop version of the browser AND a keyboard and mouse. While doing the demo we both realized that we could absolutely see leaving a home computer running and simply remotely accessing it whenever and where ever we were.
The dock is simply a way to connect peripherals to the phone and all the processing is done on the handheld. This highlights the horsepower that the Atrix packs with its 1GB of Ram and Dual Core Processor. It was FAST!
Also impressive was a media mode that allows the phone to play the media on your phone on the desktop monitor in full HD. This promises to be extremely useful when you want to play a movie, view your pictures, and listen to music while your phone is docked. From a work perspective it opens the door to a new level of team collaboration since the small screen can now be viewed comfortably by a number of people at one time.
As we said, with its dual-core processor the phone itself is impressive. When used with the various add-ons that will be released for it however the phone goes to an entirely new level. Best still the phone is coming in the next 3 months and, after we pushed hard, we learned that the dock and other add-ons will be released at the same time.
Laptop?!?! Don’t Call Me a Laptop…
Francis insisted upon opening the phone up. (Hey, he was the technical one in the meeting and he wanted to know what was inside!) The closeup shot he took did reveal one downside to the fact that the phone connects physically to the docks… The demo unit showed some wear and tear by the ports. Bearing in mind that this unit had already been docked and undocked more at CES than a normal phone would be in a year or two of use this didn’t seem like a huge concern. It was, however, something worth noting of you are considering this phone. (As *gasp* Dan is.)