Can the Atrix 4G Really Become Your Next PC?
For the other option, you'll need the $100 Atrix Multimedia Dock and a keyboard (USB or Bluetooth), mouse (USB or Bluetooth), and an HDMI-equipped TV or monitor (newer monitors in the $200-plus price range usually have HDMI ports), as well as a Mini HDMI-to-HDMI cable ($10 to $20 online). Motorola offers a $200 kit composed of its $100 dock, a $70 Bluetooth keyboard, and a Bluetooth mouse it doesn't sell separately.
Getting the Atrix connected as a "lite" PC
Motorola Mobility didn't provide a review loan unit of the Lapdock, just the Multimedia Dock and the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. The dock has three USB ports and one Mini HDMI port. Getting the Atrix into the dock was a little tricky, as you have to align both the Mini HDMI and Micro USB ports on the Atrix to the connectors on the dock. Because the ports are on the far side of the Atrix, the dock's connectors tend to act as a pivot for the Atrix as you press on it; there's nothing to keep the portless left side from falling other than your grip.
You enable Bluetooth and manage the pairing in the Settings app on the Atrix. I suggest you do so before you dock it, as the Atrix is hard to use once docked, given the odd angle at which it sits -- it's definitely the wrong position and height for using touch gestures. (I recommend you also launch the Webtop Connector app on the Atrix before you dock it.)
In Video: We Demo the Motorola Atrix
Connecting the Bluetooth devices was not simple. The keyboard connected and paired easily, but it took a half-dozen attempts to get the mouse to do so. The first five times, it would connect but not pair, even if I turned Bluetooth off and then back on -- or the Atrix itself off and on. Bluetooth is a wonky standard, so that connection issue may just come with the territory. I tried using an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, but neither would connect, though both were seen by the Atrix. My iPad likewise saw the Motorola keyboard but wouldn't pair with it; in this regard, I guess they're even.
If you're working at a desk, you may find using USB devices simpler than dealing with Bluetooth, but if you're using the dock in a living room with your HDMI-equipped TV, adding USB cables in the mix could be awkward. Further, using a USB keyboard means you'll lack the special Android keys (Menu, Home, Search, and Back) and will need to rely on the mouse to access their on-screen equivalents. Fortunately, the dock's output screen is very well designed and easy to navigate with mouse or keyboard.
Once you've made all the connections, the Atrix should appear on your screen in a few moments -- but it didn't always. I sometimes had to unplug and replug the HDMI cable, and occasionally undock and redock the Atrix itself.
Next page: More hardware glitches
Product mentioned in this article
Motorola Atrix 4G (AT&T)
This dual-core phone is fast and boasts solid data speeds, but the Atrix-powered laptop accessory is a good idea poorly executed.
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