back to article Motorola dual-core Android phone to pull off laptop trick?

Motorola's Atrix smartphone will be coming to the UK courtesy of Orange. Just another Android handset, you say, but it's the Atrix's accessories that make this gadget stand out as much as its spec. Motorola Atrix Atrix the phone The Atrix will sport a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of Ram and 16GB of on-board Flash storage …


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  1. Mike S


    I need something that can run gnu screen and a web browser, anything else is gravy.

    I'm only surprised its taken this long.

    (I'd bet dollars there's a MacBook Pro in the depths of Cupertino with an iPhone shaped recess where the touchpad usually goes, too. I'll take one of those also.)

  2. ArmanX

    See, now that? That's cool.

    Probably more expensive than I can afford - and no chance of it coming to the US via Verizon - but that's what I'm looking for in a smart phone. I don't just want an expensive phone with some neat features - I want a whole freakin' computer in the palm of my hand, but one that can also sit on a table with a decent size screen and an input method.

    Smart phones meant you didn't have to carry around a phone and a PDA/electronic organizer; this means you don't even have to carry a laptop. Add in some decent remoting capabilities - VNC and the like - and it's a great troubleshooting computer!

  3. LAGMonkey


    does the laptop dock have at least one USB port on it?

    Of course i wouldn't expect the phone itself to power an external HDD but if there is a "multimedia" doc with 3x USB and 1x HDMI i would expect there to be at least one USB on the laptop doc!

  4. John Riddoch

    I'd considered this....

    Given the ever increasing compute power & storage capacity of phones, I'd already figured out the concept of a device with the following functions:

    - in "mobile" mode, it works like a smartphone

    - when plugged into a "dumb" workstation, gives control over the device with full sized screen and keyboard/mouse (and possibly network connection). These workstaions could be dotted around the country.

    - when plugged into a full computer, grants access to the storage on the device. These would probably be home computer devices, mainly for playing games or doing high end compute tasks (e.g. CAD, photoshop etc).

    The idea is that your phone becomes your primary device, taking on different roles depending on the usage.

    I'm sure there are many issues with the model (primarily around security/reliability), but the concept has merit. Ideally, it would be a standardised platform/set of protocols, but getting companies to agree to that would be a challenge...

  5. Nya
    Dead Vulture

    Nice bit of kit

    Nice, the laptop conversion is good, but personally prefer it in desktop conversion...which brings up the point of why El Reg is only telling half the story. Come on you can do better!

    1. Ramazan

      @Mike S

      gnu screen, ssh, awk, grep, sed, perl, vim, iptables, make and (native) compiler. And of course source code of the phone's kernel ('cause some modules will surely be missing, e.g. nbd or nfs) and sources of all its bundled apps, and cross toolchain for Debian/Ubuntu, not just unbuildable pile of source codes like they tend to provide.

      In fact, I doubt that Motorola is capable of ever producing a decent s/w and even less providing any level of support for it (e.g. updates).

      Apple does excellent job with its iPhone BTW. All phone makers must learn this lesson and do better (and more open) or just die.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      So what happens...

      when you get a phone call?

      Do you yank it off the base and kill your laptop session? Does it suspend said session for when you dock it again?

    3. Chris Thomas Alpha
      Thumb Up

      bloody hell

      thats a dammed fine idea, you plug it in, you'll get multi-touch, plus visual feedback, possible vibrate options.

      can show status messages, perhaps emails, or skype status (or info), then you could depending on the app allow it to put messages with special defined buttons for certain actions, there is a whole bunch of stuff you could do.

      well done sir.

  6. Robert E A Harvey


    Just because something is possible, that doesn't make it a good idea.

    1. Martin Huizing

      Wright brothers...

      I reckon a lot of people used your reasoning to comment on their first flying machine.

      Sorry, you fail at progress...

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge


      Just looks like another gimmick that will disappoint. Many will get it only to realise it doesn't run Windows 7 and then moan.

      Laptop is a misleading term, I would say it is more akin to a netbook when docked.

    3. Richard 81

      As a rule

      As a rule, it is a good one. However, this does strike me as a good idea.

      1. bitten


        So Otto Lilienthal did not fail, he just fell.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Is there something in it?

    "It's reminiscent of Palm's poorly received 2007 Foleo - rudely dubbed the 'Faileo'" the usual idiots masquerading as "industry experts" who completely failed to understand why anyone would want a netbook until (and probably beyond) the time they started flying off the shelves.

    Docking stations are established products, although they've obviously been less interesting as laptops have grown in capabilities and in size, but the problem with them has often been that of interoperability: buy a new laptop and you end up needing a special docking station for it; they've frequently used proprietary interfaces rather than the sort of stuff accessories manufacturers have adopted to plug the gap, that being Bluetooth, USB and the like.

    The challenge is arguably in having a standard docking interface that provides enough bandwidth for the display data. That and choosing a product name (Atrix) which isn't a brand of moisturising cream in the Nordic countries.

  8. Monty Burns

    don't see it working myself

    If you want a laptop, you'll carry a laptop. Its not like they are big anymore is it? Smartphones are frankly, awesome devices of convenience but they are not a replacement for laptops, at least not yet anyway.

  9. Hnk0
    Thumb Down

    beware Moto's "update"schedule

    Looks interesting, with more phones catching up spec-wise I even expect some third-party will come up with a universal "laptop add-on" with matching app. I'd be wary of buying Motorola though, I am a Milestone customer and flash still doesn't work on it, one of the reason I had bought it. Check out their Facebook page and forums, it's enlightening...

    1. Ramazan

      @if you want a laptop

      I don't need laptop, but the functionality it provides. If ARM device could do it, I'd be glad to get rid of my notebook and its PSU altogether.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Motorola 'updates'

    "Motorola said Atrix would ship with Android 2.2 Froyo, but pledged to follow this up with a 2.3 Gingerbread update. "

    Really nice piece of kit, I'd really want to want one. But I'm a Motorola customer, I bought a DEXT with Android 1.5 on it because it was a nice phone and they said they were going to update it to Android 2.1

    I'm still waiting.

    Motorola: great hardware but complete lack of customer service and software updates. Avoid.

  11. Rattus Rattus

    I don't see the point

    Sure, it's a cool idea but if you're going to carry something the size and weight of a small laptop anyway, why not make that something an actual laptop?

  12. Stuart Duel

    Why bother?

    It's about as big as a laptop so why wouldn't you just bring a laptop?

    Now equip that phone with a pico projector and a laser virtual keyboard and then they'll have something worth crowing about.

  13. sola

    This should also be a tablet "case"

    This is like the Always Innovating Smart Book but a little bit worse because this cannot be used as a tablet. However, the Atrix is a real phone, while the core of the AI Smart Book is only a MID.

    I would definitely buy this if it also had a tablet configuration like the Smart Book

    - The screen part should also have a battery, like the AI machine

    - The phone should be dockable into the screen to form a tablet

  14. Neil 7

    About bloody time

    IBM proposed this back in 2002, with the IBM MetaPad:

    I have no idea what the "docked UI" looks like, but with Chrome now in Beta presumably it's not beyond the whit of man (or Motorola) to have the Android UI appear when the phone is undocked (ie. fully mobile) and the Chrome OS UI appear when docked in the laptop (and, logically, a desktop dock in the not too distant future?) Or maybe even a tablet dock...

    I just hope that Nokia and MeeGo get on board with this idea of having the smartphone as the only computing device you'll ever need, as for many people who only want to browse, email or instant message this is absolutely true. Obviously Intel, Apple, Microsoft, Sony and anyone else with a background rooted in traditional computing won't go near it.

    Also, industry standard docking connectors would be essential, particularly for businesses to buy into this idea (imagine a cheap laptop dock for the workforce for use with whatever company smartphone they may have, and if the "laptop" is lost - but not the smartphone - you don't lose any data).

  15. ratfox Silver badge

    Yes, but...

    Can you put the laptop case in a docking station so as to have a desktop?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Yes, but...

      If you could, could you then get a whole bunch of them and build a supercomputing cluster?

      Can I be the first to coin the term "Scalability 2.0"? The badgers' paws demand it.

  16. AnonymousDareDevil

    This makes much more sense with tablets

    There already are several iPad cases that either include or have the space for a bluetooth keyboard.

    The most obvious advantage is that you use the iPad for the screen, and can still use all the touch gestures.

    Add a real battery that can also charge the tablet, speakers, ethernet and USB ports and you have a laptop that can be transformed into a tablet with no extra software, or silly screen flipping, for a very reasonable price.

  17. Julian Smart


    Crazy idea - what happens when you get a phone call? You need to undock or use a headset.

    Also, phones tend to have a much shorter life than notebooks, so if you throw out your phone, you've got an extra paperweight to dispose of.

    There has to be a better way of sync'ing a real notebook with a phone.

  18. DRendar

    If it were built by anyone else...

    If it were built by anyone else I'd be a little excited, but as it's by Motorola, I'm not.

    They are a bunch of lying sacks of shit, and once they've sold the units they won't release updates, and will probably require digitally signed ROMs like they do with all their current Android Phones.

    The refuse to provide updated ROMs, and prevent anyone from doing it for them. Nice.

    Milestone user here still waiting on 2.2 and Flash :-(

  19. Paul

    great product, only new in so far as the execution

    there have been lots of phone and UMPC docks which make this sort of thing possible, for example you could "dock" the nokia n900 using a USB cable and the video out (why did nokia never do an update with miniDVI or something?), but this is the first device + accessories which really seem to bring the whole package together.

    the only downside? motorola's slow or absent updates coupled with tendency to lock/encrypt boot loaders meaning that you either get updates to android very late or never, and the community being unable to fill the gap: this this forum post at motorola:

    bad luck if you bought the xt720!

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