Powerful Motorola Atrix Speeds to Low Battery

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For Motorola (MOT) the new Atrix 4G smartphone ($199 with a plan via AT&T (T)) would be the first of firsts.

It would support a once-unheard-of dual-core NVIDIA processor -- think dual Hemi V8 but for smartphones. Peel out! It would be an early 4G phone for AT&T's way-late 4G network. And it would swim point in a school of small-business-oriented add-on devices -- what the company called, no joke, a peripheral "ecosystem." Gizmos such as an HD Multimedia docking stations, in-car mounts and a crafty add-on keyboard module called a Lapdock.

Last year Motorola began its media marathon to market the Atrix, and it just came to an end. I actually have a real demo Atrix 4G. And my take after a few weeks' use? Yes, the unit does pack legit small-biz game-changing stuff, but so much is going on with this thing that not all of it is pretty.

What you get
This is probably the hottest pure-performance business handheld on the market.

The Atrix is the Joe Stalin of smartphones -- unstoppably, ruthlessly powerful. The dual-core processor, matched with a full clip, 16 GB of internal memory and the finally fully realized Android 2.2 OS, is literally twice as fast as any smartphone you have ever used. Email, word processing, documents, multimedia -- it's all desktop-computer fast. Plus, the unit supports the television-quality high-definition media standard HDMI. So the Atrix can store, and play back, your best-looking business presentations. Factor in a built-in fingerprint scanner, front and rear cameras and standard QR scanners -- this thing is loaded.

Essentially, you're getting the speed and power of a legit laptop that is small enough to get lost in your pockets. It's insane.

What you don't get
Don't expect first-rate battery life, flawless design or truly all-world ease-of-use.

Like all muscle cars, the Atrix's raw oomph has rough edges. Battery life varied heavily. Though a company representative confirmed the unit's stated nine-hour usage time, I wasn't seeing it. The Atrix connects to AT&T's nascent HSPA+ 4G network here in New York, which seemed to eat gobs of power. And heavy multimedia and Wi-Fi access only shortened usage time further. The device also has probably the flimsiest battery access door I have ever touched. And getting all those interconnected peripherals to really work took some gadget jujitsu. How does the HD docking station connect to the remote control? Where do I plug in the Lapdock? Or does this wire go into the car mount? The TV? The wall socket? Your eyes glazed over yet?

Bottom line
Motorola deserves real credit for bringing a unique, game-changing device to the small-business market, and the company is rapidly becoming a major force in mobile solutions for the small enterprise. So pay attention.

For the performance-obsessed business babe who is not afraid of his or her gadgets, the Atrix is seriously rewarding. The Atrix is probably on its way to be Inspector Gadget's favorite cell phone.

But it flirts dangerously with the edge of what the average business Jane or Joe can manage.

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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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