Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Motorola Atrix 2

Initially, AT&T released the Motorola Atrix. It was impressive with the available Laptop Dock, the HDTV dock, the 1 GHz Dual-Core processor and the fingerprint scanner. It had some glitches and then those glitches were fixed. I hated that phone before the upgrades fixed the glitches. After the upgrade, I loved that phone. I loved it so much that I did a second review on it. Now Motorola has released a predecessor - the Motorola Atrix 2. It's bigger, faster, stronger, and has a brand new camera. The question is, do I have to wait for some much-need upgrades in order for me to like this phone or has Motorola stepped it's game up and released a winner straight out of the chute? Find out in my full review.

- Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system
- 8 MP Camera with LED flash and 1080 P HD video; VGA front-facing camera
- 1 GHz dual-core processor
- 4.3" qHD display (960x540)
- 8.5 hours talk time
- 8 GB internal memory, phone comes with a 2 GB micro-SD card (expandable to 32 GB)
- 4G HSPA+ enabled
- HDMI out port
- Available laptop dock accessory
- Optional Swype keyboard
- Support for Zumocast (explained later in the review)

- Able to be hooked up to a laptop accessory
- Very fast processor allows for much faster loading in applications and web pages
- The same software as the most recent software update available for the original Motorola Atrix
- Zumocast!
- First Android phone I've seen with a dedicated camera button

- I'm a big fan of the Swype keyboard. If it's there, I'm using it. On the Atrix 2, it seems like Swype is harder to type on. I make more typos than on my Galaxy S II and have to go back to fix them more frequently.

The top, front of the phone, showing the top speaker and the
front-facing camera as well as that familiar Motorola Logo.
This review is a little hard to start because once I actually got into the phone and started using it, it felt exactly like the original Motorola Atrix. With only a few of the menus being switched up a little bit from the original, I felt right at home. Physically the phone has seen some improvements, so I'll start there. The build quality feels much nicer. The glass on the front somehow feels less "plastic-y." The edges of the Gorilla Glass are beveled, giving the front of the phone a smoother, rounder feel. The chrome lining around the edge of the screen makes it look and feel nicer in your hand. The battery cover on the original Atrix was cheap would come off easily or would easily separate from the rest of the phone and the Atrix 2's battery cover is much better. The back is textured and has a slightly rubberized feel to it - not cheap feeling - just nice to hold on to and you don't feel like you're going to drop it when you're holding onto it. The speaker on the bottom of the back is outlined in chrome, the camera and LED flash is too, and the camera is surrounded by a black brushed metal that finishes the look of the phone off nicely. The phone looks classy, but despite all this it is not eye-catching. The over-all design is nothing a regular Motorola smartphone user hasn't seen before and is very standard for a Motorola smartphone. If it weren't for the softer, rounder edges and the obvious AT&T logo on the front it could easily pass for a Verizon Motorola smartphone.

The back of the phone showing the speaker and, on the side, the
dedicated camera button.
While the phone is not exactly thin, it fits nicely into a pocket and its rounder edges make you think it's a smaller phone than it really is. It reminds me of when people started switching from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4. Even though the iPhone 4 is smaller, a lot of people asked if it was bigger once they actually got it into their hands. The smoother, rounder edges on the iPhone 3GS gave it a smaller "feel" than the iPhone 4. This phone fits that bill nicely.

The phone has a good, heavy, "feel" to it too. This is hard for me to say because I don't like heavy phones, but this phone feels like it's solid while still remaining decently thin.

The insides of the phone... upside down. "No, I won't show you
my IMEI number. I should slap you just for asking!"
The insides of the Atrix 2 are very similar to the original Atrix as well. Without getting too technical because this review isn't really as much for the "uber-nerds" the processor is the same speed (1 GHz, dual-core) as the original. Sure, the back camera is better, but in order to stay relevant phone manufacturers have to keep getting better and better cameras on their phones. The screen has gained 0.3" but the quality is the same... and... yup... that's about it.

This phone DOES have support for Motorola's new "cloud" service, Zumocast. I put cloud in quotations because it really is a way of accessing things like music, video, and files on your computer(s) from your smartphone. The only stipulation is that the computer you are accessing must be on and connected to the internet. I am sitting here writing this review and streaming music from my computer at my house. This is world changing for me because until now I was limited as to how much music, applications, videos, etc... could be on my phone. I have over 10,000 songs and several movies and videos loaded on my computer which I would like to have access to on my phone, but together all that information is over 100 GBs of information. Average high-end Android phones have 8 GB of internal memory. My Galaxy S II 16 GBs. Even if you expand your storage with a 32 GB memory card, you're limited to 48 GBs of storage at most. Some people would say, "Get a 64 GB iPhone 4S" (for $400) like it would solve all my problems, but it still won't hold all 100 GBs of my stuff. iCloud can "help" by allowing me to store 5 more GBs, but for anymore storage than that it would cost me a yearly subscription ($20/year for 10 GBs, $40 for 20 GBs, and $100 for 50 GBs). So, let's compare what it would cost me to have all 100 GBs of my stuff with me at all times. Apple's 64 GB iPhone 4S with a $100, 50 GB yearly subscription to iCloud would let have access to all my stuff at once (and would be nearly maxed out) for an upfront cost of $400 and a yearly cost of $100 ... or Motorola's Atrix 2 with 8 GB of internal storage and (basically) unlimited storage from my computer for an upfront cost of $100 and no yearly subscription. Hmmmm.... This is ground-breaking!

The back of the phone showing the ol' Motorola "M" and the
8 MP camera with LED flash.
So let's talk about how it works. First, I installed Zumocast on my phone and created my user ID and password. Then, I installed Zumocast on my two computers and signed in with the same ID. I selected the folders I wanted to have access to from Zumocast on my phone and... voila! That's it. I can now access my computers files, music, videos, etc... from my phone. While using this service, I noticed that the internet connection the computer is on doesn't really need to be all that fast. I listened to music streaming from my computer through Zumocast for three hours at a coffee shop where the internet is very bogged down by other customers, and it only skipped a beat one time for about ten seconds while it buffered. The mobile internet on AT&T's 3G or higher network was more than adequate to keep up. I even watched ten minutes of an episode of South Park streaming from my computer and it didn't stop once to buffer.

The top of the phone complete with headphone jack and power/
lock button.
Zumocast did present it's downsides. When I received a text message, it would pause the music rather than just interrupt it and then resume automatically. I would then have to go back into Zumocast and press play. The other downside is that if my computer was not online, my stuff was no longer available to me. For people that live by themselves this is fine. For people who have roommates or wives, relying on your computer sitting at home remaining unmoved or not disconnected from the internet is not something you want to put on the line if you are, say, relying on that connection to have access to important files. Although I never did experience frustration from this situation, it could easily happen if my wife decided to shut down the laptop to take it with her to school or a coffee shop.

The HDMI port right next to the Micro-USB port. This is the
setup that will allow it to (eventually) dock to the Laptop 100
laptop docking station.
Just as with the original Atrix, the Atrix 2 has the HDMI out port and the Micro-USB port right next to each other to allow for the Laptop dock experience. Unfortunately, the Atrix 2 is not compatible with the original Atrix's laptop dock. There is a new Laptop 100 dock that will be released by Motorola that will allow you to dock any most Motorola phones to it and use it as a laptop, but it is not currently released, but it will support the Atrix 2. Unlike the original Atrix, the Atrix 2 can "mirror" whatever you're doing on the phone to an HDTV by plugging a mini HDMI to HDMI cable into the phone and an HDTV. This is a lot of fun for showing people how to use the phone, streaming videos, showing pictures, and playing Angry Birds. Also unlike the original Atrix, however, the HD cord is not included in the box (probably to help justify the $100 price point). Darn.

The side/back of the phone showing the camera and the volume
Call quality was excellent. One of the better phones I've experienced lately, actually. Callers could hear me and the noise cancellation on this phone is great (for a phone). Usually to get this good of noise cancellation I need to be using a bluetooth headset like the Jawbone Era.

The camera is worth mentioning because it took great video and good pictures. The 8 MP camera wasn't better than other 8 MP cameras that I've seen on phones, but it was on par with them. The videos were clear and looked excellent on a computer screen. The thing that sets this apart from other Android phones is the dedicated camera button. I've never seen that on any other Android phone. It just makes using the camera that much easier and you can take pictures one-handed. It's easier to steady the shot too. Very impressive.

A screen-shot from the Atrix 2,
showing some of the widgets that
come pre-loaded on the phone.
I should mention that the original Atrix had an internal storage space of 16 GBs and the Atrix 2 has just 8 with an included 2 GB micro-SD card. This is somewhat disappointing. However, the original Atrix launched with a $200 price card attached to it, so it's not surprising.

The battery life on the Atrix 2 is better than some I've experienced. I can easily get through a day. It isn't as good as the first Atrix, the Samsung Galaxy S II, or the Samsung Infuse. It is better than the HTC Status (but so is pretty much anything) and it's comparable to most other Android phones and the new iPhone 4S.

This phone is for people who absolutely love Android phones and want something that "feels solid." It's, as Motorola would say, "Business ready," meaning that it is aimed more at business folks. With the look of the built-in widgets, the option for a laptop dock (coming in the future) and the professional work of the phone, it's a good choice for a business person. The ability to plug it into any HDTV and mirror what's on the screen is also priceless for presentations (pay attention here college students and business people) and with Zumocast, you can take your computers files with you everywhere you go. I would agree. This phone IS business ready, and ready to sit in my pocket for a few more days. :-)

Some more widgets that come on the phone.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post and wonderful blog, I really like this type of interesting articles keep it u.
    Toshiba Laptops