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Nice Try

Nice Try
by Gary Woods

You've probably seen the ads for the new Motorola Atrix. If not, it shows the Atrix phone plugging into a dock with a keyboard thereby turning your phone into your laptop. To make this magic transformation there is a piece of software called Webtop which is really an instant-on custom Linux build.

To boil that down, what it is, in fact is your phone in a window which sits inside a Firefox browser. Why they picked Firefox instead of Google's Chrome is a mystery, but there it is. You can make and receive phone calls while you're plugged into the dock but separate phone apps can't be run in their own windows.

The Firefox browser is kind of sluggish, not even coming close to the performance that you get from most notebooks or inexpensive laptops. You can run Flash content in the browser, but the performance is pretty choppy and watching something like Hulu even at it's lowest bite rate was disappointing.

The concept of making your phone into your laptop is very exciting but at this point I don't think we're there. With the phone and the dock the price tag comes to about $650 less the $100 mail-in rebate and for that kind of money I think you're better off getting the cheapest iPad then using an inexpensive clam shell phone for communication.

That said the Atrix is a very good phone with a nice camera, and interesting approach to some of the basic Android Apps. The phone goes for about $200 but I can't recommend getting the accessories.

If you have any suggestions or questions for me please drop me a note at or see my column on the Internet at or call me at (805) 729-0910

Gary Woods is the Computer Trainer for the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. And he is a Broker/Associate at Home Realty & Investments, Inc