Motorola has demoed some really cool android-based products at CES this year; from the Honeycomb packing, Tegra2 powered Xoom tablet, to their potentially game changing Atrix phoneputer. These products largely gloss over the turd they call the HS1001 cordless home phone, but it looked out of place enough that we had to stop by and stare at the train wreck.
First, the good stuff. Tegra and its second generation counterpart have been floating around for what seems like ages without gaining much traction. Despite claims of numerous design wins, lofty sales figures, and a barrage of Tegra 2 devices on the show floor, the cold hard fact is that it is damned hard to find a Tegra device on store shelves anywhere today. Nvidia’s booth was showing off several tablets including the sexy-as-all-hell Acer Iconia Tab A500, but none of them are actually on the market. Motorola was showing off its tasty looking, Tegra2 powered Xoom tablet as well, but like the Acer it is not available for purchase just yet. This is however set to change as the Xoom is slated (pardon the pun) to launch sometime this quarter.
Xoom Tablet. Image from Motorola.
Xoom will be the first tablet to launch with dual core Tegra 2 under the hood and will also be the first Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, tablet out of the gates as well. We were not allowed to touch it and other sites have reported that the interface displayed on the device was merely a video representation of the UI in action. Battery life during video playback is stated to be around 10 hours, and overall it looks like a very sharp unit that could give Samsung’s Galaxy Tab a run for its money.
The Atrix 4G phone is another highlight of the Motorola booth. This phone has been widely reported on, and its gimmick is the ability to slip into a number of docks which connect it to a TV, desktop keyboard, mouse and monitor, or turn it into a slim craptop. The phone is capable of outputting video at up to 1920×1080 resolution, and appeared to work well in the live demos switching between a dock connected to an HD television, a dock connected to a desktop monitor and peripherals, and the craptop dock. The catch is that Android is not designed to be used in such a fashion, and despite some very clever software work on Motorola’s part, the experience was somewhat clunky and inelegant looking. If Android and Chrome OS begin to meld together, this idea could be a real winner in the near future. The concept of being able to slap your phone in a dock and have your large monitor, keyboard, mouse, at your disposal, then pop the phone out and stick your computer in your pocket is quite appealing for many general usage scenarios.
Atrix 4G Hooled up to an Dell monitor, keyboard and mouse
Now for the not-so-good stuff. This device literally stopped me in my tracks while roaming the CES show floor with the idea behind this steaming pile of wasted resources being to strip Android down and shoehorn it into a landline cordless phone handset. It might sound like a reasonable idea to some, and perhaps with a LOT of work it might be useful someday, but first reactions count for a lot and my first reaction was to throw it as far away from myself as I possibly could. Fortunately my better judgment prevailed and rather than hurling the handset and risking arrest I pulled out the flimsy, toothpick-sized stylus from the unit and began tapping away at the unresponsive resistive touch screen to try and find out how to dial a phone number.
Can you smell it?
After hunting for several minutes and asking a Motorola representative for help (to no avail) I finally found the dialer application. The buttons mostly worked after several attempts at pressing each number and eventually I would have been able to place a call had the base station been connected. The phone also had a web browser application that works over WiFi and is an atrocity. The 240MHZ ARM CPU in this brick is brought to its knees if you so much as look at it wrong and any kind of useful web tool you try to access is abominably slow. Fortunately, Motorola had the foresight to NOT include the Android Market on this device, as most apps wouldn’t be able to run at any reasonable performance level to begin with.
In short this phone is the epitome of “the wrong tool for the job.” It looked cheap, felt cheap, the Android interface was stripped down, ugly, and unpleasant to use. If there was an Android protective services number to call I would have arranged for the phone to be taken away from Motorola for abuse. Overall this phone should have been left behind, donated to the Will it Blend guy, or at the very least been painted gold and encrusted with fake diamonds to blend in better.S|A
Random Gigabyte booth babes, because I love you.