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AT&T Motorola ATRIX 4G and laptop dock hands-on

Review by Todd Haselton on Wednesday February 09, 2011.

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We've been testing out the Motorola ATRIX 4G, AT&T's second HSPA+ 4G smartphone that will launch on March 6, and its laptop dock accessory for about 24 hours now and are prepared to bring you our first impressions of the phone.

The ATRIX 4G is the first commercially available phone in the United States with NVIDIA's dual-core Tegra 2 processor. That, combined with its "4G" labeling, certainly make it a compelling product for anyone looking for top notch hardware. But its expensive laptop dock and mediocre network performance gave us some reason for alarm, at least initially.

The ATRIX runs Android 2.2 Froyo, which isn't the newest version of Android (2.3 Gingerbread). Still, the dual-core processing power is certainly noticeable. Applications launch and close almost immediately and I haven't experienced the tiniest bit of processing lag while navigating around the phone's apps and user interface. Speaking of the user interface, Motorola's MOTOBLUR custom Android overlay is getting seriously stale. I'll revisit the UI in a bit, but first let's go over some of the phone's hardware features.

The ATRIX 4G has a 4-inch quarter-HD display, which means it has a 960 x 540 pixel resolution. The text and icons look good, and at that resolution, you can fit most websites pretty well on the screen. However, it still takes some zooming to make text readable.

On the top of the phone, there's a unique fingerprint reader that can be used to unlock the device. Setup is easy: I just had to scan three fingerprints from each hand. AT&T says there are some applications that allow you to use the reader to launch various applications depending on the finger you swipe, but out of the box it can only be used to unlock the device. I could see some corporate users appreciating the ability to log into secure corporate apps with the reader, but that's not supported yet.

The ATRIX 4G has a 5MP camera on the back that, so far, appears to snap some pretty decent pictures. That camera can also shoot 720p HD video. There's also a front-facing camera for VGA video chats, although I haven't tested that just yet.

The left side of the phone has a micro-USB slot and a micro-HDMI port for outputting HD content to a television. These ports are also used to connect the ATRIX 4G to its optional laptop dock accessory, which will set you back a total of $499 with the phone.

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About the author

Todd Haselton
Todd is a senior editor at MobileBurn and works out of his home in New York City. He covers news for us and also writes reviews. You can follow him on Twitter at @RoboTodd

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