Why the Motorola Atrix 4G+Dock is better than a Smartphone+Netbook

Posted by Charbax – March 14, 2011

While I am eager to see more of the Motorola Atrix 4G (I don't know if I can get/find/buy a review unit), having tried it at CES (and interviewed the product manager in this 15-minute video) and at Mobile World Congress, having written about how I think this concept is an example of the ultimate ARM Powered device, as the Motorola Atrix 4G is being released in the USA, here are some of my arguments for why this is a taste of the best mobile computing solution for all:

- Cheaper to make (does not mean it's cheaper to sell, for some reason anything related to telcos is over-priced..). The Bill Of Material of Motorola Atrix 4G is probably close to $150, and the Laptop Dock which consists only of a screen, keyboard and battery must not cost much more than $50 to actually make, even with this pretty high resolution screen.

- Lasts much longer on a battery, Motorola says 8 hours, this thin battery might compare with something like a 2-cell battery on an Intel Atom powered netbook. Since the screen is the most power consuming part of the device, if they used Pixel Qi, the battery runtime might be 30 hours for this setup.

- Thinner

- Lighter (if they didn't put such heavy metals in the laptop dock), it seems to me the metals used on the laptop dock of Motorola Atrix 4G may make it a bit unnecessarily heavy. But perhaps some people find it just fine and good heavy metals make it seem like good construction quality perhaps.

- More secure, we all know and understand cloud services and embedded OS are much more secure than trying luck with a Windows based x86 PC. If Motorola had used TrustZone and NFC, it would even had been the absolute ultimate 100% secure and unhackable system to use for any online authentication or money transactions.

- Faster than intel atom (if they used a faster processor than Tegra2, with more memory bandwidth, such as Exynos 4210, OMAP4430 or ST-Ericsson U8500, when I tested it at CES and MWC, the web browsing with multiple tabs was not fast enough, I think I understood that that may be due to Tegra2's slow memory bandwidth perhaps not yet suitable for multi-tab laptop/desktop style web browsing, I hope Motorola/Nvidia/Mozilla have fixed this in software updates since..)

- Simpler, all your data is always there and synchronized, you always know where to find your data. This is the dream of SysAdmins, they can just give all the employees this system and know it just works, auto-updates, if a unit breaks, everything is automatically resynchronized, hardware upgrades are also seamless.

- Much lower power consumption, save money on power, save the earth eventually, using this type of laptop should become mandatory

- Unbloated, no more crappy software that crashes and fills with viruses and malware (would be better if it "simply" ran Honeycomb with that Chrome browser inside and optimized for laptop use)

- Instant boot, no more waiting

- Seamless resume of multimedia playback on different screen

- There is more.. what do you think? Write in the comments..

  • Karel Gardas

    Hey, Tegra2 provides higher memory bandwith than OMAP 4430! Please read http://armin762.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/sheevaplug-vs-efika-mx-vs-nvidia-tegra2-vs-ti-omap4-pandaboard-benchmarks/ and then speak about it. Thanks!

  • I think I was told by TI people that their OMAP4430 has double the memory bandwidth of Tegra2, and I think a product manager on Tegra2 based device confirmed it to me that it’s true. And here is a quote:

    “TI reckon there are several points at which they eclipse their rival. According to Marcelo O Vieria, general manager of the OMAP business group, the OMAP4 1080p video codec is stronger than that of the Tegra 2, in fact he reckons TI “have a better video engine than [NVIDIA] do”. OMAP4 also supports 20-megapixel or higher image processing, as well as three simultaneous displays, and it has significantly more memory bandwidth than Tegra 2 which means it’s better at multitasking.”

  • Could it be that the SD card required for the Pandaboard slows things down in these memory bandwidth tests?

  • Karel Gardas

    no, this is really just RAM bandwidth!

  • Karel Gardas

    The problem is that this is not true in reality unfortunately. IMHO so far Tegra2 products provide the fastest RAM access. Perhaps the reason for this is that OMAP’s products are using slower/mobile and do not use whole bandwidth as provided by TI…

  • I think I have it confirmed from Motorola Atrix 4G product manager and from the OMAP Line product manager at TI, that OMAP4430 has double the memory bandwidth of Tegra2.

    Can we find any other numbers somewhere online to back any of this up? Perhaps there are some official memory bandwidth numbers on Texas Instruments website that can be confirmed with official specs of the Tegra2.

  • Karel Gardas

    But I’m probably wrong here since if you have a look at http://dev.gentoo.org/~armin76/arm/memcpy-neon_result.txt and compare Tegra2 and TI OMAP with DDR2-800, then you will see that Tegra2 is more faster in L1/L2 benchmarks nearly by 60-70%. So I consider this TI’s statement to be just non-honest marketing speech trying to dishonest their really hard competitor…

  • I don’t know how to read or understand these benchmarks. I was also told that Neon in OMAP4430 speeds things up a lot especially for things like multi-tab web browsing and Ubuntu.

  • Karel Gardas

    If you don’t know how to read this benchmark, then higher number is better. If you believe that NEON speed up browsing experience in Ubuntu, then you are wrong, since AFAIK Ubuntu does not provide any NEON compiled binary. To put it in real clear words: OMAP provides NEON, but NEON is not used at all on Ubuntu. If you would like to use it, then you will need to recompile whole your browser stack and I’m afraid this also means even glibc. Please google for arm hard-float debian project for more information.

  • Karel Gardas

    Unfortunately so far I’ve been unlucky to find any company specification of RAM bandwidth. That was also reason I’ve asked Raul to provided those benchmarks…

  • Anonymous

    Have you used an Atrix /w lap-dock? Seriously. It is a nice idea but the execution fail so bad. It is like the RedFly and Folio. Completely useless.

    First of all.The web-top runs a locked down version of Ubuntu Jaunty.
    With 3 apps: Firefox, a modified Nautilus File Manager, A Gallery Viewer. The Citrix client is a plugin inside Firefox.

    Thats it folks.

    You can’t install any applications. You can’t go into the terminal and run an “apt-get install”
    The thing is locked down.

    Since Motorola is using open-source components like GNOME, Nautilus and Docky. We expect Motorola to reveal the source code to their modifications.

    XDA folks are trying to “double-root” now. Good luck with that.

    At least with a Netbook,I cam decide to install ANY apps I want. I can run any OS I want. I can even have my smartphone display on my netbook via VNC or many of the web-server apps that give me a browser interface to my phone’s contact/SMS/dialer/phone.

  • This is why I’m a fan of Chrome OS too. The Canonical folks help in creating the most basic OS just to support a full desktop class web browser and few other UI type of things like notifications, system management, but that even can be integrated in the web browser.

    There are reasons for Chrome OS and this Motorola Atrix 4G Linux Firefox mode, the idea is simplicity, optimized used of basic resources, stability, security, speed, from there, all that’s needed is very powerful native code, graphics, offline features added inside HTML5, from then on, in theory, anything can thus be done from within the web browser, even supposed advanced things like video editing, document editing and more.

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