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Hands on: Motorola Atrix and Webtop

While the tech media at CES 2011 queued up for a chance to see the new Xoom tablet, it was the Atrix and accessories that stole the show.

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Joseph Hanlon

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To say we were surprised by the announcement of Motorola's new Laptop Dock and the power of its Atrix smartphone would be somewhat of an understatement. While the tech media at CES 2011 queued up for a chance to see the new Xoom tablet, it was the Atrix and accessories that stole the show.

The Atrix (a name we've been assured is not just Matrix minus the M) is, on paper, the most powerful phone we've seen to date, thanks to its 1GB DDR2 RAM in combination with the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor.

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On the back of the phone, alongside the 5-megapixel camera, the Atrix sports a fingerprint scanner. When unlocking the phone, the user presses the button under the scanner to power-on the display, then swipes either index finger along the scanner to unlock the phone.

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As we expect to see with most of the top-line smartphones this year, the Atrix includes HDMI output alongside its microUSB port.

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This is the Motorola Laptop Dock, a 11-inch shell comprised of a screen, a keyboard, a multitouch touchpad, a battery and 2 USB ports. Until you connect the phone, there is no computer hardware in the Dock at all.

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The Atrix sits in the swivelling connector at the rear of the Laptop Dock and connects with both the micro USB port and the HDMI connection simultaneously.

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Webtop is an application housed on the phone which launches when an HDMI connection is detected. This means you can use Webtop without either of the docking accessories by simply connecting the phone directly to a monitor or TV and using the phone to control the user experience.

In this picture you can see how Webtop delivers the same status messages that you would expect to see on an Android phone along the top of the screen. On the left is a view of the phone with access to all apps, and on the right is the built-in Firefox browser.

Everything in Webtop is powered by the phone, so the data connection uses the phone's 3G or Wi-Fi, and all the processing is performed by the Tegra 2 processor.

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That's right, you can play any games you've downloaded through the Android Market, including Angry Birds.

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Best of all, the Android window is scalable, so you can use your favourite apps over a portion of the screen, or you can blow them out to fullscreen.

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Webtop can launch 18 apps simultaneously, and the familiar Alt-Tab keystroke combination is used to cycle between the different active tasks.

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There's also quite an attractive music player installed, playing music stored on the phones 16GB of internal memory.

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For those who feel 16GB will barely cover their media storage needs, the USB ports on the rear of the Laptop Dock make it possible to plug in a 1TB external hard disk and allows you to share and stream files from it.

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