Image by nvidia.corporation via FlickrI was really looking forward to the Motorola Atrix and specifically the laptop that comes along with it. I'm a big fan of Android. I'm one of two people in North America who BOUGHT a Nexus One and thinks it's actually a good phone. Seriously, I believe I'm in the sweet spot of the Atrix's target market. I'm on the road a fair amount and all of my stuff is in the cloud. For email I use Gmail on Google Apps, my files are in Dropbox, my to do list is in Remember the Milk and my notes are in Evernote. Wherever I am, if I have a computer connected to the internet, I can get going on things. I'm not attached to a machine and I'm still connected to what matters, my information and my data. I'm looking at the paradigm of the Atrix as a natural fit for me:
- powerful phone;
- android platform;
- best Gmail integration there is out of the box;
- with the laptop, I now have a real way to type in emails on a moment's notice when in between two meetings or flights, using the phone connectivity;
- my phone recharges as I use the laptop - bonus!
The bit where I'm disappointed
Bell sells the laptop for $429 regular price and at an introductory price of $329. The price is steep to start with; one can have a netbook for that price.
Once you have the phone and laptop and you want to use the laptop, you dock your phone on the laptop and off you go. The experience there is slow at best. I can fire up my MacBook faster than the WebTop fires up. There seems to be a resume mode where it's faster but I can't say that when it goes into sleep mode, where the boot up feels a lot longer.
Using it, sluggishness and limitations
It feels sluggish. The phone is powerful for running Android applications, but running Firefox is another story. To start, WebTop is a very simplified desktop where the only things one can really do are:
- run Firefox to browse;
- run Firefox web applications, using prysm;
- interact with the phone itself from the laptop;
- also available is Motorola entertainment software.
The keyboard form factor is not working for me. It's too small and the keys are not well laid out. I mistype constantly. I keep hitting or touching the mousepad by mistake, my cursor moves around and then I end up typing part of my message in the wrong place. This is a real pain for me, as it's not a time saver and is very frustrating. The next thing about the keyboard is the lack of multilingual support. I understand the keyboard to be English only and I'm used to that. I need the ability to set up a French Canadian keyboard so that I can type in accented letters. There is no way to do that up for now and that's a big bummer for all non-English international markets!
Using the phone UI is difficult through a mouse pad and the blown up view looks primitive. Navigating from one screen to the other of the android UI by dragging your finger on the mouse pad is not easy. Furthermore, when in an application as a user, since I'm on a laptop, my natural inclination is to use the keyboard shortcuts but that doesn't work. Overall, there is a need for more seamless integration between the two interaction models.
I think Atrix the phone is a great phone, although I do prefer an android stock experience. It's fast and powerful compared to my Nexus One. The WebTop experience is early in the game still. It feels unpolished and lacks integration between the phone experience and the laptop experience. The WebTop software is not optimized enough for the phone capabilities. The whole experience is not there. How it looks, how it feels and how it works is not singing. However, I really like the concept and it will be a concept I will follow closely.