Motorola calls it the “world’s most powerful smartphone.” Indeed, the specifications of the Motorola ATRIX 4G handheld computer and cell phone sound interesting: a Tegra dual-core processor with each core running at 1 gigahertz to deliver up to 2 gigahertz of processing power and 1 gigabyte of RAM memory. That sounds like a desktop computer. In fact, this new device is as powerful as desktop computers of only a few years ago. Motorola engineers suggest that it will suffice as your only computer. I'm not so sure but I still must admit that it is powerful.
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The Motorola ATRIX 4G may have a lot of processing power, but is still hampered by its small screen, no keyboard, and the lack of a hard drive. However, Motorola has also announced a "laptop dock" that looks like a normal laptop except that it contains a slot for the ATRIX 4G. You plug the cell phone into that slot, then use the "laptop's" screen and keyboard. The processing power is always provided by the ATRIX 4G and all of your data and programs remain with that device. You can take your data with you. The only time you need to use the "laptop" is when you want to use the larger screen and keyboard.
The Laptop Dock features an 11.6-inch screen, full keyboard, trackpad, USB ports, and stereo speakers and provides up to eight hours of battery life. It weighs 2.6 lb (1.17 kg) and the cellphone/computer adds only a few additional ounces. The ATRIX 4G fits into a slot in the back left of the device, behind the display. The result is a laptop form factor that leverages the power of the phone.
The Motorola ATRIX 4G runs the Android 2.2 operating system so it already has more than 10,000 applications available, including one excellent genealogy program. It runs a full Firefox 3.6 browser with support for Flash 10.1 and provides multi-tasking capabilities. Users can run Android applications in a window, send instant messages and make phone calls, all at the same time.
You can read more about the Motorola ATRIX 4G at http://www.gizmag.com/motorola-atrix-4g/17521/ and at http://goo.gl/oTDOP
I don't see this as a replacement for a full-powered desktop or laptop computer, but it certainly is more than powerful enough for casual use and probably will meet the needs of many people who are not "power users." Couple this with a few terabytes of storage space in "the cloud" and you could have a dynamite package that is useful for many people, at home, at the office, and on the go.
I would think this would be very appealing to non-computer-experts, including to students, housewives, teachers, medical personnel, delivery truck drivers, police officers, and to many others. Yes, it would also be useful to genealogists on a field trip to the courthouse or when visiting a library.
The Motorola ATRIX 4G probably is not the perfect smartphone today but I do believe it provides a glimpse into the future of personal computing. Engineers keep shrinking the size of processors, memory, and storage. However, the size of display screens and of keyboards are still limited by human engineering: we can't see tiny screens and our fingers won't fit on minuscule keyboards. The ATRIX 4G seems to provide an ideal solution: carry all your data with you on a small device that fits in pocket or purse for casual use, then use an external, plug-in keyboard and display screen when you need the larger sizes.
Will this, or something like this, be your next computer?
I could get enthused if Apple or someone else could produce an iPhone that runs the full OS X operating system, fits into a pocket, and also plugs into a "docking station" that looks like a laptop. Hey, Steve Jobs, are you listening?