As many of you know-I’m a long-time iOS user. I’ve been using the Motorola Atrix for a little over a month now. The phone is my first Android device, and I was charged with the task of writing the official TechnoBuffalo review of the handset- No pressure. Right?
I was a huge Atrix supporter from the time I saw the handset at CES this year. The dual-core handset can be used as a smartphone, but can also be used with a laptop, desktop, or set top dock to turn the phone into more of an “everything” gadget than just a phone. The ability to have “one gadget to rule them all” really attracted me to the phone. A phone that can also theoretically be used as my home computer? Where do I sign up?

So did the Atrix live up to all my expectations? After spending some serious getting to know you time, here’s what I think about the phone:

Atrix Pros:

  • Dual-core processor
  • High-resolution screen
  • Multiple dock accessory options

Atrix Cons:

  • Docks are exceptionally expensive
  • Running Android 2.2 (not Gingerbread)

Best For:

People who want to impress their friends with the phone’s docks. Those looking for a speedy Android phone on AT&T’s.
Website: Motorola Product Page
Suggested Retail Price: $199 with a new 2-year agreement

Software

The Atrix comes with Android 2.2 (rather than Android 2.3 Gingerbread) and with Motoblur (which I understand the majority of you hate), as well as some other apps, pre-installed. Uninstalling all that action (which you’re probably going to want to do) takes a bit of time. At first glance, I actually kind of liked Motoblur. The widgets looked pretty sexy, but one’s like Twitter and Facebook were completely non-functional when it came time to actually trying to use them. I did end up keeping the Google search widget on my home screen, but that’s simply because I like being able to have quick access to searching, not because the widget itself rocked my face. You can read more about my experiences with Android on the Atrix in our Cheating on my iPhone series.

Speed

This phone is fast, and leaves my iPhone in the dust performing most tasks. The iPhone is a touch on the old side now, and running on AT&T’s 3G network, rather than its HSPA+ “4G” network. The dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM in the Atrix helps it pack a punch, however, even when you’re performing non-network related tasks. Definitely a faster option by far. Running apps and games was always super fast, and I never felt like the phone couldn’t handle what I was throwing at it. While I thought there was a noticeable speed increase between my iPhone and the Atrix, it’s worth noting Jon thought the two were pretty on par with each other in his iPhone vs. Atrix video post.

Screen

The iPhone 4 is still going to pack a better resolution screen than the Atrix, but that said, the Atrix has a pretty nice 960 x 540 display. On more than one occasion all my smart phone-toting friends pulled their phones out places, just so they could sit them beside mine and see how they compare. Point being- at first glance, it looks like it might be better than other screens out there. You almost need a side-by-side comparison to see the difference between the handset and many other big names on the market. It’s a nice, bright screen. That said, it’s also pretty hard to see when you’re outside during the day, so keep that in mind if you work outdoors or find yourself in bright situations more often than not.

Laptop Dock

I also have the docks for the Atrix. While they were something I was super-pumped about before getting the phone, they’re something now I think are best left on the store shelves. Luckily, the models I have are review units from AT&T, and not things I actually spent tons of cash on. The laptop dock in particular is a great concept to me on paper (and on the show floor), but sort of silly now that I have one in my house. Check out Jon’s Atrix dock unboxing and demo video to see what I’m talking about.

Why? For starters, the dock costs $500 (both separately or bundled with the phone itself). Whether you’re paying the full $500, or just $300 by bundling it, that’s a huge chunk of change on a laptop that isn’t really actually a laptop at all.

Yeah, the laptop isn’t a laptop. While it’s nice that the dock is powered entirely by your phone, it’s also powered entirely by your phone. The dock is the size of a traditional laptop, so you’re really not saving much in terms of space/weight. What you’re losing, however, is an actual computer. I don’t see how or why you would choose to use the dock over buying a lighter and more functional netbook. Below is a picture of my 10-inch HP Mini netbook (decorated with stickers) beside the Motorola dock.

That said, if you’re in to spending tons of cash for no reason, or just had one of these land on your doorstep, it is pretty cool. You can browse the web just as you might on a traditional laptop, and use your phone to play games, and even make phone calls on a larger screen. Definitely neat. Definitely not worth the price you’ll pay for it.

Conclusion

I actually saw my first Atrix (besides my own) out in the wild this past weekend while I was at dinner with friends. The handset was being used by a former BlackBerry owner that is an engineer for video games. His response when I asked how he liked it? Instant “I hate it. I can’t wait to get an iPhone 5!” I kind of echo that statement. I’d much rather use my iPhone than the Atrix, but that is due at least in part to me being more comfortable with iOS. Android offers you tons of customization options, which are great if you want to customize everything about your phone. I just want my phone to work. I don’t want to have to tell it how to pull that off.

I think what makes the Atrix stand out (and why I wanted to switch), is its ability to connect to all of the additional docks. The docks are overpriced (by a landslide) and are completely useless if you don’t have the phone with you. As much as I want it to, it doesn’t make sense to me to tote around a huge dock with me so I can connect my phone to it, instead of bringing my much smaller netbook along for the ride. I want it to work, it just doesn’t.

Do any of you own the Atrix? What do you think about it?