Last year when I reviewed the ATRIX with Lapdock, it was a new experience using a phone that transforms into a workable netbook.

Now, the new ATRIX 2 has released and offers improved user experience and specs from the original ATRIX.

  • 8 mp camera (vs. 5mp)
  • Full HD 1080p video recording (vs. 720p)
  • 4.3″ qHD screen (vs. 4″)
  • 4GB onboard system memory, 1GB RAM (original ATRIX has 16GB built-in user memory, but this new one is also priced lower)
  • 147grams
  • 1735mAh battery capacity (vs. 1930mAh)
  • RRP S$699

List of Likes on the ATRIX2:
– Sleep mode lets you turn the phone off and all radio activities, conserving precious battery life, but you can turn on the phone instantly without waiting for the boot up.

– Social-enabled apps like Gallery, Music, help you to reach out to your contacts. When you open the Gallery app, you can browse your camera photos, your phone storage photos, your online photos, and your friends online photos. As you browse their photos, you can comment or like them. When you browse your own photos, you can also select to upload and write comments to them too. Likewise, the music player is also integrated with online content. Easily listen to Internet radio, identify songs, watch YouTube. The ATRIX 2 even streams the lyrics as you listen to songs stored in your phone.

– Over-the-air content management. By installing the free MotoCast software on your desktop or laptop, you can browse your computer multimedia content on the ATRIX 2 and watch them over-the-air.  When you open the file manager app on ATRIX 2, you will see options to browse files either from your phone or from other DLNA-connected devices or your MotoCast computers. The ATRIX 2 also comes with Phone Portal app to let you manage your phone content over a web interface.

– Shortcut camera button, always taken for granted, helps you start up the camera app any time without having to look for the icon on the screen.

– Micro HDMI port, a standard feature on all Motorola Android devices, lets you mirror your screen to any HDMI-supported display.

– Matt rear casing offers good grip and durability.

– 10 free EA games, making the ATRIX 2 a little more appealing. But I find some of the games like FIFA 10 require a larger screen size to better enjoy the gaming experience.

List of Dislikes
– MicroSD card is required to store user content. There is no built-in storage, unlike the original ATRIX.
– Rear casing can be difficult to remove without strong fingernail.
– It’s the same uninspiring Motorola interface design like all previous models.
– The fingerprint security has been removed. Pity, as it would have been a unique feature for ATRIX devices. I would go for this compared to the face-unlock feature on the new Android 4.0 ICS.

Lapdock 100
On its own, the ATRIX 2 offers nothing compelling compared to the competitors. But it shines when paired with the Motorola Lapdock.

The new Lapdock 100 is remodeled to allow a wider range of Motorola smartphones to be plugged to it. Its design is a more futuristic take compared to the previous slim compact mould. With the new Lapdock, your Motorola smartphones will be charged by the Lapdock battery when plugged in. The keyboard is also gapless like normal desktop keyboard instead of the chiclet style which I abhor. There are custom functions on the first row of the keyboard, similar to what the Asus Transformer dock is providing.

Other than the design, I don’t observe any major difference with the original Lapdock. The webtop app still only supports Firefox browser and every other function is handled by the native phone app via a separate window. You would not get a complete laptop experience with the Lapdock, but if your life depends on desktop web browsers, then the Lapdock will help you attain higher productivity. The speakers are not top-notch, but delivers decent sound for general listening.

Final Thoughts
The ATRIX 2 is a minor product upgrade from the first ATRIX, offering similar feature sets and experiences. The price is competitive and will appeal to Android users who have many social accounts and like to share content yet not tech savvy enough to look for third party apps. The ATRIX 2 easily feeds the user with social news, contact photos and music on the ATRIX 2.

The Lapdock 100 is redesigned to generically work with more Motorola devices as the connector is a flexible cable. Its primary purpose is for you to access a Firefox web browser with a full keyboard rather than surfing on the small phone with half the screen occupied by the soft keyboard. Remember: the Lapdock runs the real desktop version Firefox browser, unlike Android or iOS web browsers. You also get a multi-window interface to let you tile or cascade your windows.

The ATRIX 2 alone might not be a compelling smartphone choice, but when connected to the Lapdock 100, makes a viable alternative to a netbook.

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