TOYBOX: Motorola Atrix 2 + Lapdock

The Motorola Lapdock looks like a netbook, but has little hardware under the bonnet. You plug in your smartphone to give it processing power - and put its apps on a big scren.

If you don't like doing all your work on a smartphone, but find a full-size laptop too bulky, check out Motorola's Actix 2 ($699), and Android handset comes with an optional Lapdock 2 ($499).

The Lapdock has no processing power or memory. It's like a netbook shell, until you plug in the Atrix 2.

The Atrix powers the Lapdock, and lets you use all the smartphone's features, and access all its data.

The netbook-size 11.6-inch screen and keyboard are a boon if, like me, you hate typing long emails on a cellphone, or any touchscreen.

Click to zoom.

There are two modes of working on the Lapdock.

The first is a pop-up window (at screen left in the photo above) that exactly mimmicks the cellphone's screen. You can use it for txts, or making or taking calls, which are routed through the Lapdock's microphone and speaker. The audio is crisp and clear.

The second is a full-screen custom "webtop" browser (curiously, given the Atrix 2 is a Google Android phone, it's a modified version of Firefox, not Google's Chrome). It makes for a really user-friendly way to access your webmail, or view photos and videos stored on the cellphone.

Yes, you can wirelessly sync data between many species of smartphone and a netbook or laptop, or link them by USB cable.

And essentially the Lapdock is not a lot more than a jumped-up keyboard dock, given all the computing power is drawn from your smartphone, and you're working with files that stay on your phone. But slotting the Atrix into a Lapdock is a very clean and easy way to work on the go. 

Click to zoom.

I did find a few negatives.

The Lapdock's touchpad was really unresponsive - to the point I was always plugging in a mouse (which you can via two rear USB ports). Annoying.

Another was that the Lapdock was a little laggy, compared to app performance on the Atrix 2 itself. It wasn't a deal-breaker, but it was noticeable. I suspect once Motorola boosts the Atrix to a more powerful quad core processor (as surely it will in the months ahead, following rivals) the overall Lapdock performance will improve.

A connector chord built into the Lapdock unfurls for plugging in the Atrix, which sits in a slot on the back of the unit.

Lastly, while the Atrix 2 is a capable smartphone with all the usual mod-cons, and roomy 4.3-inch touchscreen, it runs Android 2.3. Once you've used Android 4 (there was no version 3, don't ask), it's hard to go back. Again, look for Motorola to embrace Android 4.0 in the near future, and offer a firmware upgrade for recently released handsets (especially now Motorola's cellphone division is owned by Google). But until then - not so keen.

Like other Motorola smartphones, the Atrix 2 is only available through Telecom.

The 11.6-inch Lapdock 2 beside my usual laptop, which has a 15.6-inch display.

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