The Motorola Atrix Lapdock is a great idea that is hampered by being ahead of its time in many ways. However, the price is simply too high and we suspect its popularity will suffer as a result.
Light and stylish, good battery, charges phone
Too expensive, keyboard isn't great, user cannot install apps on Lapdock
£300 for the Lapdock, £130 for the Orange Work and Play kit
1.1kg, 11.6in LCD display, eight hours battery life, stereo speakers, 2x USB sockets
We've already cast our critical eye over the Motorola Atrix and, as a phone, it impressed us a great deal. It's solidly built, fast and has one of the best batteries we've seen, giving some 38 hours of light use froma single charge in our tests.
Now it's time to look over some of the dock accessories that Motorola has introduced to make it easier for your phone to become a productivity tool that helps you work on the move.
We looked at two bundles available from Orange; the Work and Play package includes a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, remote control and the HDMI media dock.
The second is the Lapdock, which is an 11.6in screen with keyboard and mouse. Both sets of accessories attract a discount over the normal price to buy the kit separately.
Replace your laptop?
The most exciting accessory is the Lapdock. Billed by Motorola as an alternative to a laptop or netbook, it features a bright, clear, high-contrast screen and a decent sized keyboard with a generously proportioned trackpad. The Lapdock contains a three-cell battery too, which can power the dock for eight hours while keeping your phone charged.
The Lapdock is a dumb device. It has no memory and no processing power of its own, instead relying on the Atrix handset to provide processing hardware. To achieve this, the phone attaches to the dock via a cradle that connects to its USB and HDMI sockets. We like this system, and it feels robust enough to last, even with lots of docking and undocking over the years.
Pulling the phone out switches the Lapdock off, and there's no need to unmount the phone first. It's a truly plug-and-play system, and very fast and easy to use. As the dock is very simple, it needs to use the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G signals from your phone to work, and switching these on in the dock simply enables the phone's in-built radios.
To make the system work, the phone has Motorola's Linux-based Webtop 'application' installed. This is activated only when placed in the Lapdock or one of the Motorola docks with an HDMI output. Webtop itself is designed to look a bit like Mac OS X, and has a similar dock at the bottom of the screen complete with ridiculous jumping icons.
The only installed app that isn't available in normal phone mode is the Firefox browser. There are shortcuts to Facebook and Motorola's Webtop zone, but these are nothing more than links. You can access Motorola's media interface, more of which later.
There is also a basic file manager that allows you to browse files on your phone. You can look at the SD card and built-in storage, and it's actually a pretty good way to manage your handset and delete any old or irrelevant files.
It's also not possible to install any new apps. We can see the logic of this, as the space for saving such things and the performance capabilities of the phone are quite limited.
As powerful as the Atrix is, running the Webtop interface on top of Android and all the numerous other services seems to be a little too much for it.
We also think that £300 is quite a lot to pay for something that is, essentially, a keyboard and screen with a small battery.
It is, however, enough to work in the cloud. So if you're a Google Docs user, you can get on with documents, spreadsheets, email and presentations.
Go offline, though, and you might find that you're unable to work until your mobile phone picks up another signal. This is also the reason that traveling with the Atrix is likely to cause problems as roaming data charges are far from cheap.
We used the Lapdock's keyboard for quite a while, and found it a reasonable way to work. It's not a patch on a real keyboard, and we were slightly puzzled by Motorola's decision to make it so small.
The keys seem to be squeezed into a smaller space than we would expect. Our opinion is bolstered by the fact that the trackpad is far bigger than it needs to be, which makes it look like it's stealing space from the keyboard.
You wouldn't want to type a thesis on one of these keyboards, but it's a lot better than using a phone, and much better than trying to type on a tablet.