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The Motorola Atrix Review

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The Starting Line

So… Let us start at the beginning with a little background information. My present phone is the iPhone 4, Nokia C6-01 and Nokia N8. In addition, I own a Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and I am trialing a Nokia E6 with the new Symbian OS Anna installed. So you are now made aware that I have a little bit of background knowledge of mobile phones for you to be able to place this article in perspective.

What’s In A Name

So… The Motorola Atrix! I will slip away a few letters and we have the M-Atrix aka ‘The Matrix’. I am sure Motorola meant it to be that way with tongue in cheek.

Specs! Specs! Specs!

Operating System: Android 2.2 (FroYo)

Web Browser: Android HTML Webkit, Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1

DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance): Stream, store and share content with compatible devices around the home like HDTVs, game consoles and PCs

Battery type: 1930 mAh Li Ion Polymer

Memory: Up to 16 GB inbuilt

Additional Memory: Up to 32 GB microSD

Hardware – The Black Box

The Motorola Atrix has a solid feel to it and at first glance with the 4.0-In.; qHD (960 x540) display its initial appearance is a lot larger than the iPhone. However, if you check the gallery images you will see that the two devices are quite similar in height. The Atrix measures in at: H: 117.75 mm x W: 63.5 mm D: 10.95 mm and weighs 135 grams. Whilst the iPhone 4 dimensions measures: H: 115.2 mm x W: 58.6 mm x D: 9.3 mm with a weight of 137 grams. In my hand I can confirm that they are much of the same height.  However, despite the Motorola Atrix being wider, it fits more comfortably in the hand in comparison to the iPhone. This may be due to the fact that the Atrix is slightly curved and it has a warm sensation to it. It is lighter in opposition to the iPhone, which has a very solid flat base, is heavier in weight and consists of much more squared corners.

The on-off button is rather a weird conception that I have not come across before. It is inserted into the top back of the phone but is a flat panel against the normal cubed or circular button. It does not feel intuitive when the screen goes into sleep mode to be able to access this panel as easily as one might expect.

On the right side of the phone is a rocker switch for volume. The micro USB connector and HDMI slot occupies the left side of the device and at the top of the phone is a 3.5 mm headphone jack.  The back of the device houses the on/off button, a speaker and a 5 megapixel auto focus camera with digital zoom and LED flash.

The front of the phone has the following: Top right is a message light, which indicates when you have a notification. Top left houses the webcam and at the bottom of the screen are touch icons for the menu, home, back and search keys. I could find no way to switch off the vibrating feedback of those.

Removing the battery is not a nice experience as when you do, you then come to realise how very plastic and cheap the material is. So put it back on and pretend you did not take it off!

There is not much else I can say about the external hardware.  It is a blank black box with no extras in its look to seduce me.

What Are You Hiding

Beneath the demure outer skin hides the real talents of the Atrix.

qHD display

The front screen display consists of a 4.0-In.; qHD (960×540) Corning® Gorilla® Glass

qHD is a display resolution of 960×540 pixels arranged in a 16:9 aspect ratio. This resolution is one quarter of a full HD 1080p frame (thus the name) and is three quarters of a 720p frame.

Camera! Lights! Action!

The superb 5 megapixel camera makes great use of the 4 inch display. This allows you to compose images with efficiency and clarity.  I am rather a fan of the Point and Shoot facility.  I think when an opportune moment to capture an image is presented, you do not always have the time to adjust modes for lighting etc to suit what the eye can see. For those of you with  a more professional photographic side to your personality, there are  extras within the menu such as Scene Modes and additional camera options so you should not feel that anything has been left out. The functions are there if you need them but I found the automatic shoot option to be my favourite mode of use.  The colours are clear and distinct and the wide screen display allows you to compose and shoot much more easily than you are able to with a device which houses a smaller display.

Photo Sharing

You can share photo images via Bluetooth, text messaging and via Gmail, Picassi and YouTube.  In addition, you can add further sharing accounts.

Video Capture: HP 720p capture

Playable Formats: H.264, WMA9, AAC, MPEG-4, MP3, AMR NB, eAAC+ , AAC+

Streaming Media: Internet Radio, Audio, Video

Video Capture Rate: 30 fps

Video Playback Rate: 30 fps

Calls and Messaging

The Atrix includes the full range of call functions:

Caller ID, Picture ID, Ringer ID, On main display

Speakerphone, advanced speech recognition, automatic answer, call timer, call transfer, call waiting, emergency dial, mute call, noise reduction, speed dial, Quickstore Private IDs, Quickstore Phone Book, Group IDs, SDG Lists, vibracall, voice dialling with VR Name dialing, VR Digit dialing, wait and pause dialling.

Calls made and received were very clear with minimal noise due to the noise reduction technology.

Text To Speech: Missed / received calls, Readout of new SMS messages, Readout of new email messages, Readout of dialed digits, Readout of phone book contacts, Readout of caller identification, Voicemail alerts. Voice commands.

Text messaging was simple and easy to use.

Keypad

The keypad is clear and well thought out. It was easy to use and there was no delay in its recognising my keystrokes. Portrait as well as landscape mode is available for use throughout the device, menu and apps. I particularly like the retro typewriter ‘key clicks’ that the keypad gives you.

Email

Email set up on the Motorola Atrix is the easiest and most pleasant experience I have had on a phone requiring just two sources of information: my email address and password. Nothing else. Zap! It was completed! Wow! A feat of simplicity. The phone then informs me how and where I can get access to my email in the phone and also informs me that I now have a widget running which allows me to read the latest unread emails and social networking messages in one stream.

In addition, I had no problems setting up several accounts i.e. my default email – spam address – eBay sales and a domain specific address which also acts as a back-up to my Hotmail (yes, I have had the occasion to lose all my emails before, hence my eccentricity).

Reading emails are clear and you can choose amongst individual emails whether you wish to view images or not.  The inbox list is populated with the senders name in blue followed by the subject and a one-line message preview.  Although the blue looks very nice and highlights the senders name clearly on the screen when it is in a static mode, scrolling loses all sense of readability with the blue names of senders becoming a blur and the white text listing subjects and headers becomes a ghost appearance wherein the text slightly disappears/fades or decreases in size to that of normal. You can choose from a variety of fonts and settings under the email options.  You are also able to multi-select texts to action them all at once (Apple, we need this).

Motoblur

MOTOBLUR synchs personal and work contacts, and connected social networks and gives you quick access to your most recent social activity. The Atrix arrives with Motoblur enabled.  The duality of all your social activity within the same time line can causes confusion.  It is hard to differentiate between the social streams of Twitter and Facebook but it might just be me that has a problem with the bombardment of information.  I am rather enamored of individual apps that contain specific information related to one process only aka a Facebook app for Facebook and aTwitter App for Twitter, etc.

I love the facility of having the large icon on the default screen for social activity and the smaller icons for the Market Place, maps, browser and navigation.

The status bar holds a great deal of information and a vertical swipe on this, produces a time line of recent activity alongside the status bar information of signal, clock, alarm and network. Clicking any of the functions takes you directly into that path’s application – Nice!

Home Screen – The Number 7

The default set-up is 7 home screens! Wow! I can see where this might be useful for some people but for me 7 home screens is excessive. I can manage 2-3 at the most. After, which I prefer the rest of my access to be via a menu list of icons.  You can add widgets, which update on a regular basis, or static menu apps to any of the home screens.

Clicking on a social tweet takes you direct to a screen where you can respond to the message by clicking status update. At this stage you can also scroll to see updates from other users. Clicking status update takes you into full screen mode giving you the normal twitter options of favourite, retweet, reply, etc.

Too Much Information

There IS a sense of Too much information, Too many screens and Too many things happening at the same time. If you love this, the Motorola Atrix is the phone for you.

The Market Place

I love the Market Place. Everything is clear and distinct.  You need to set up a Gmail account to be able to use the Market place, which is easy to do directly on the phone itself. The Market Place contains apps to develop, create, manage, entertain and personalise your Atrix experience.

A quick scoot to the Market Place enabled me to download and add my usual apps: WordPress, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Sky News, BBC News and Shazam to name but a few.

There are a ton of default applications pre-installed on the Motorola Atrix.  The most essentials in my opinion have been covered including: QuickOffice, Latitude, Google Maps, News, Weather, Qik video and YouTube.

Apps

Clicking the options button within any app affords you with additional menus and functions that do not show up on the default application screen. So if you are looking for an additional task to complete or something appears to be missing, it will be hidden under the options menu.

My previous experience of android phones consisted of menu screens that swiped to the left or right. However, on the Atrix, the menu icons swipe up and down.  It does feel more intuitive via this method. However, You can be at a loss thinking that you are at the end of a scroll screen of options whilst in a menu, only to find that you are not. A scroll bar showing at what point you are in a menu would be a good addition both for within menu’s and within settings.  Once you are familiar with the phone, this won’t be a problem as it will become second nature, but from the point of view of a new user it may be difficult as they will be unaware of these facts.

Web Browsing – Sublime

We now take a look at the web browser.  One word – Sublime.  It is fast and easy to search or input your url. Pages load up quickly and readability has been a high specification of this device and therefore it was easy to manipulate around a website and load any page including those sites that contain heavy  graphical content.

Sound

Sound quality is fantastic and once again, the right-handers have been given prominent positioning. In rather an odd place, the position of the speaker at the top left of the back of the phone, sits perfectly in my right palm blocking the sound from it. As any left-hander will tell you, the left hand is needed to be free to access the touch screen lol.

The music and play function allow you the choice of choosing to play music via artists, genre, albums, songs or dedicated playlists. Additional functions are available via the option button and settings include: auto repeat, sleep timer, songs downloaded, lyrics display (if available), tunewiki account and data usage which enables you to limit data use.

The speaker is very loud and the music quality shows the depth of clarity Motorola went to, to ensure that the Motorola Atrix was as good musically and in its use of media on top of all its other capabilities.

YouTube

YouTube shows full details with a mini screen to view video. Turn the phone landscape and the movie automatically goes full-screen with all unnecessary information removed. Very Nice – a great move in my opinion.

Multi-Tasking

One of the main features of this handset is the ability to multitask and I have had nothing but enjoyment on that score.  With several of my main apps open I have not experienced any slow-downs, crashing or freezing that some devices encounter when the phone is just doing too much for the CPU to cope with.  With 1GHz dual-core processor for 2x the power and 2x the speed the Motorola Atrix is prepared for everything you want to throw at it.

The Finish Line

To sum up, the Motorola Atrix is a very nice device. I can honestly say that I enjoyed my time with the Atrix. It was simple to use and its helpful pointers along the way increased the UI experience. It has all the features that a user new to android would enjoy and in additional it has advanced facilities for the power user. The camera is one that you would wish for, quick, clear and with beautiful perspectives.  The only detraction from the Atrix is the quality of materials used in its production.  When devices and smartphones are arriving with asthetic metals and better build quality, I feel that Motorola has skimped on this in the Motorola Atrix creation and because of this, I would be hard pressed to purchase the Atrix over one of its rivals. Read on to view the full gallery of the Motorola Atrix in profile, images taken with the 5 megapixel camera and image comparisons between the iPhone 4 and the Motorola Atrix. Enjoy!

Thank you for reading my article. d@ni