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Motorola Atrix 4g

Steve Morgenstern
From the Print Edition:
Jim Nantz, May/June 2011

The next step in the evolution of cell phones into pocket-size computers has arrived with the Motorola Atrix 4G. This Android-based phone offers exceptional speed for portable information and entertainment, thanks to a revved-up new chipset and AT&T's fast 4G data network. Still, even with a fast connection and well-designed apps, there are certain jobs that are tough to tackle by poking at a cellphone screen with your finger. For those occasions, Motorola has a unique solution: an optional laptop dock with a full-size keyboard and LCD screen.

The Atrix 4G has a 5-megapixel camera on the front for taking snapshots and HD video (complete with LED flash) and one facing you for video calling, over the cellular network or a Wi-Fi connection. There's also an HDMI port for connecting to an HDTV, letting you view videos and photos on the big screen.

This is a relatively large phone but still quite pocket-friendly thanks to a slim 0.4-inch depth and 4.8-ounce weight. The four-inch screen looks beautiful and, combined with the snappy dual-core NVIDIA processor under the hood, feels very responsive to the touch. You jump from application to application without that annoying smartphone lag. Games start up quickly and play smoothly. So does online video, including online Flash clips not available to iPhone users.

What's most likely to stop passersby at Starbucks, though, is clearly the laptop dock. You slip your phone into a slot at the back (don't even have to turn it off first) and you have a full keyboard and 11.5-inch screen at your disposal, with a touchpad and USB port for a mouse if you like, ready for Web surfing, messaging, document editing and more. The dock weighs but 2.4 pounds, including a battery that's supposed to last up to eight hours (and charges your phone while connected).

As you'd expect, this cutting-edge technology doesn't come cheap. While there are already discounted deals springing up here and there, the official AT&T direct price for the phone alone is $199 with a two-year contract, and $500 bundled with the dock. If the combination of pocket and laptop capabilities makes you more productive on the road, though, it's money well spent. For more details, visit att.com.

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