Motorola's latest offering in the form of the RAZR i, comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and what Intel claims to be the fastest chip ever placed in a smartphone.
It is Motorola's first phone to launch in the UK after the Google acquisition and after getting my hands on it, it seems to be leading the way in the mid-range smartphone market.
Launched at the beginning of this month, the phone contains the Intel Atom providing up to 2Ghz of speed. The Android software runs without hitches, yet there are some compatability issues with the Intel chip. As pointed out in Pocket Lint, some applications do not run, such as Adobe Flash Player, which means you can't run apps such as BBC iPlayer or ITV Player.
It may be that this hasn't been addressed as Flash is no longer in its prime, however it will be interesting to see if Motorola rectifies this, or waits to see if developers make changes instead.
OK, so not the best start. But first impressions in the looks department and, yes it is another "Black Mirror", but press the unlock button and a gorgeous bright screen comes to life. Another big claim for the device is that it has a 4.3 inch 540x960 screen which "goes right to the edges." And it does indeed go right to the edges of the screen, avoiding that black frame you get with other smartphones.
It also sits really nicely in the hand at only 126g and even with the Intel chip powering away, the 2000 mAh battery will keep you going for the day.
I particularly like the widget that comes with the Motorola overlay. It is made up of three circles of varying sizes which are customisable. You can select for text messages, missed calls or voicemails to rotate in the circle which provides the time. You can also turn over the middle circle to see the weather in preselected countries. The smaller circle also provides you with how much battery you have remaining.
It just makes the homescreen feel very personal. And after all that, if you're a more angular person and despise circles you can still remove it from the homescreen, nice to know you're not stuck with it, even if it is a Motorola addition.
Screen which homes intuitive pages as well as widgets. The phone offers personalisation of pages as Android standard, but a suggested "Mobile Office" page is very useful to install right away to "get work done anywhere, anytime" with Quickoffice, email, calendar, bookmarks and SmartActions all set up and ready to go in the click of one button.
The phone has a dedicated camera button to be able to launch from screensaving mode in under a second. The 8MP camera could possibly compete with the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920. While it doesn't have as many fancy editing software, the instant-launch camera can capture 10 images in less than a second, which I found very impressive and made my iPhone 4S camera seem about twenty years old.
The phone isn't enabled for 4G or NFC, and doesn't have any
fancy wireless charging (or thank god come in luminous highlighter colours), but this phone isn't
trying to set a fashion statement or be the first to conquer anything. This is
a quality mid-range smartphone that does everything you expect it to do quickly
and efficiently, while lasting longer than an iPhone.
Available sim-free from Amazon and Expansys for £344.99, or £342.99 from Clove, or free on various networks on contract.
T-Mobile's Business SIM-only plans include a 30-day or 12-month plan whilst getting up to 2000 minutes and a Flexible Booster, plans start from £10 per month.
There were three reactions to the launch of Apple's newest device, the iPhone 5:
Hype, rumours and excitement prior to the launch
Disappointment in regards to the lack of innovation when it was launched
And way too much loving sentiment and claims of the "best phone ever" when reviewers got their hands on it
As an Apple user I was intrigued to see what they would release, then disappointed on launch, but I'm afraid I don't follow the crowd when it comes to all the gushing sentiment.
I was lucky enough to have the iPhone 5 land on my desk in work a week ago on launch day while other humans and celebrities were queuing down the road in Regent Street. When I opened the box, yes, I was initially impressed that it had slimmed down and was much lighter to hold. But that's where it all stopped for me.
There is a divide in the Computer Weekly office, you seem to either love the iPhone or hate it. I personally land on the side of love, I have had my iPhone 4S for three months and my iPad 2 for a year and, my iPad in particular, I couldn't live without. That said, I still can't seem to justify the extended enthusiasm and amount of praise this new Apple product has received.
I was angered by the lack of innovation, and unlike others, an upgrade to the A6 chip and superficial changes can't take that away.
Wireless charging from the Nokia Lumia 920?? NFC capabilities like the Samsung Galaxy SIII to jump-start the use of mobile money?? These are two examples where mobile devices are making changes to the industry, but without the King of smartphones Apple jumping aboard, there's little hope for innovation to take off on a mass scale.
Cons - lightening connector, Apple Maps, aluminium backplate
A major difference to the look and feel of the iPhone 5 it is bigger yet has shed a few pounds. Rather like the supermodels gracing the catwalk at London Fashion Week, the device has been stretched and is longer, thinner and lighter than ever. It weighs 112g and is 123.8mm x 58.6mm x 7.6 mm.
It now also has a silver aluminium backplate which aids to its significant weightloss. While it does offer more grip, I find it very cold to touch and there have been complaints from users where the aluminium shows up scratches much more.
Yes the screen is ever so slightly sharper, meaning that the apps are brighter in contrast. But it still took me lining up my iPhone 4S against the 5 looking so close at the screen that my nose bumped the "beautiful" glass to notice this. After reading one review which described how they thought the removal of one layer of glass felt like you were touching the pixels on the screen, my eyebrows couldn't actually raise any higher into my hairline.
The increase in height from 3.5 inches to 4 has allowed an extra row of apps which is useful as it creates less screens to scroll through. More importantly it now introduces a 16.9 aspect ratio
There is also no difference in the response time of scrolling through the device and opening apps. Except for the camera which opens a fraction of a second quicker than the 4S, but not at the speeds of the Motorola Razr i which boasts being able to open up the camera in under a second.
Available in 16/32/64GB storage as well as 1 GB RAM, no expandable memory, but 5GB of iCloud is offered for free as standard. It features an upgrade to an Apple A6 chipset, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU.
First device in the UK able to connect to the super-fast mobile broadband, 4G. However at the moment you have to be an EE customer to be able to use this. Other operators should be allowed to offer 4G services within the next year.
The camera remains as an 8MP camera, but takes slightly better shots in the dark. However, take an image of the sun or a bright light and you will find a purple haze around the light, or a "purple halo" which many iPhone 5 users are complaining about. Again, this is an area where the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 may trump over the iPhone 5.
The iPhone 5 has 25 hours extra on the iPhone 4S, bringing it up to 225 hours standby and up to 8 hours talk time.
I found the call quality very clear and when compared to the iPhone 4S, it wasn't as tinny and there was less echo from the surrounding area of the person you are calling.
The earphones have been redesigned and are much more comfortable to wear than the previous design. They sit securely thanks to the rounded tip that fits inside the opening to your ear. Those genius people in Apple have also moved the headphone socket to the bottom of the device, mirroring its iPod touch devices, which is much more convenient as the wires don't tangle up as much.
The iPhone 5 comes preloaded with Apple's new operating system, iOS6. However, the OS is still available to existing Apple users (with functionality varied depending on the age of your device.
I took a look at the new iOS6 last week and despite the major issues with Apple Maps which have stopped some users upgrading their device all together, I was pretty impressed with the features that I was able to use including extended use of Siri, a Do Not Disturb function and passbook.
While there has been serious problems with Apple's Maps app, I would think they will be working around the clock to update Maps to actually show stations, roads and err places very soon.
The iPhone 5, like its predecessor, is a pleasure to use and hold. Yes it's a great piece of kit, yes the company produces amazing, game-changing pieces of technology. But why does one slight upgrade and a few "dramatic" changes cause such a furore in the technology space?
If you fancy yourself an iPhone, definitely get the 5, but I won't be cancelling my 4S contract and paying an extortionate amount just to get my hands on something that millions of others have also got. When the time comes, I will upgrade to the latest model, but will everyone please calm down?!
The iPhone 5 is available on Vodafone business tariffs including the 24 month Vodafone Red Business data plan. This is available for £45 per month (ex VAT) and provides a free device, unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 2GB data and a dedicated landline number on your iPhone.
Having created this blog and nurtured it for the past four years, I've decided to put the best blog posts/videos from the best on one page.
Diary of an outcast: Apple's Special iPad 2 Event I will start with my favourite post, the infamous Apple event. I had been invited to Apple events before but somehow started getting missed off the list. I hate Apple so it was no surprise that they didn't want me there. Safe to say that after this post not only was I missed off the list but Computer Weekly never received an invite from Apple ever again.
iPhone Vs N97 This was the first big video project that me and David (video editor) put together. At the time I was so happy that I'd got the N97 I decided to make a video pitting it against the iPhone while mocking Apple's advertising campaign. Little did I know that the N97 would prove to be the worst purchase I've ever made in my life.
HTC Desire HD Review David (who stars in this video) and I wanted to do something different and create a cool video review. This is what we came up with.
Sadly once we started recording David (and the department he worked for) were made redundant. It didn't effect the video but it wasn't a happy time for us. Having cleared out his desk he set up at home the next day to finish it. This was our last hurrah and the last video I made. Very proud of it.
What is the best mobile OS around? At this point, no one wanted to be in any of my videos. The company was starting to cut back on them and so I tried to play four roles with four outfits and a moustache before I got told that what I was doing wasn't a productive use of my time. Honestly, how could they say that?
This video used to have a voting element that has since been removed because we couldn't afford to pay for the server the flash sat on.
The most ambitious video we ever tried.
Video: The future of business cards, I'm not taking the Poken There was a girl I was desperate to go out with at my work. I needed to do a video to have a reason to talk to her but the only thing I'd been sent was a Poken. No phones or cool gadgets. Somehow I persuaded her to help me make this video. We're still together :)
He would stand there saying "That's not funny" every time I cracked a joke or did something stupid. Or one of my favourite lines of his was "You might think that's funny, but it isn't".
Video: Palm Pre vs the iPhone - The big debate I had 2 weeks before Christmas to do a video armed with my wit and a white wig that was left over from a very bad 'Back to the future' spoof I'd made where I played the Doc. That video was so bad that the company we producd it for sent us a letter saying that if the video ever saw the light of day, they'd sue my a** off.
David went on holiday with a week left of editing/filming to do so I didn't have anyone to tell me that what I was saying wasn't funny and some of the editing is a bit off. It's still a good video but we felt it was rushed.
Video: Flip Mino HD review This video took 84 takes. For no reason at all I couldn't stop laughing during recording. We got in trouble because it was meant to take a couple of hours but took almost two weeks.
At Intel's keynote, Motorola Mobility chairman and CEO Sanjay Jha joined in the Intel processor love-in to announce that theu have a 'multi-year, multi-device agreement' with Intel to produce smartphones with Intel Processors.
This agreement is interesting because of Google's involvement with Motorola, meaning that Motorola will be the second manufacturer of Intel-Android smartphones after Lenovo.
Motorola devices sporting the Intel processor will ship in the second half of this year.
News of the upcoming BlackBerry Porsche (or P'9981) has inspired me to create a list of other 'special' or limited edition phones.
It's going to be in two parts. First, this part will outline five of the best (for various reasons) smartphone collaborations and the second part will look at five of the worst.
So, kicking things off, here is the BlackBerry Porsche:
The most shocking thing about this handset is not what it looks like but how much it costs. £2000 pounds.
£2000 is a lot to pay for any phone, for that amount of money you could get a run around car! Instead, what we have here is, in Faisal's words, a phone that looks like an 80's calculator.
It doesn't even come with RIM's new BBX operating system. What it does come with though is a forged stainless steel frame, hand-wrapped leather back cover, Wikitude World Browser augmented reality app experience (not a clue?), 1.2GHz processor, HD video recording capabilities, and 8GB of onboard memory.
As for the Porsche's input? Well apart from the nicely engraved name along the top of the screen that lets everyone know how rich and, in my opinion, how stupid you are, there is an exclusive Porsche Design UI running on the handset.
I know I said that this is five of the best yet I've gone on to heavily criticise the BlackBerry, so let me explain. In terms of build quality, memory and processing speed the P'9981 is head and shoulders above devices on the upcoming worst list.
Next up, the HTC Sensation range with Beats Audio. Specifically the XE model.
The XE is a solid Android 2.3.4 smartphone, equipped with a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and HTC's popular Sense UI. The urban styled handset differentiates itself from the pack with the inclusion of Beats Audio technology.
Beats by Dr.Dre seems to be taking over the audio market so it is came as no surprise to hear it would be making the move to smartphones following HTC's decision to buy a sizeable stake in the company.
The device comes packaged with a pair of iBeats earphones, which cost a pretty penny if you were to go out and buy a pair, and the fact that I've seen a few people complain that the music player comes with the bass boost enabled tells you all you need to know.
Moving on, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, the first PlayStation certified smartphone, is third on my list.
Another Android 2.3.4 (although an update to 4.0 is looming) handset, the Xperia Play is equipped with a 4" touchscreen, a 1GHz Scorpion processor and 512 MB of RAM.
Thanks to Sony Ericsson's little Android tweaks, this smartphone would still have been a decent device before the PlayStation integration came along.
Having already used an Xperia Play for gaming, I know the touch sensitive flat joystick replacements, PSP like gaming buttons and a super-sensitive accelerometer all make for an impressive experience, whether your playing Crash Bandicoot or Pro Evo.
In conceptual terms, this fourth smartphone collaboration is genius. Take a Motorola Droid (the old model, not the new super thin RAZR), add a bit of Star Wars magic and the end result is the Droid R2 D2!
This Droid packs a 3.7" touch Screen, slide-out qwerty keyboard, 1GHz processor and 5MP camera. However, there is no hologram projector.
If you think the only difference between the R2 D2 and a normal Droid handset is a plastic back cover and a Star Wars wallpaper, you are sadly mistaken. Oh no, the R2 D2 also comes with official Star Wars sounds (lightsabers etc I'm guessing) as well as an exclusive "The Best of R2-D2" movie with original Cantina music. Wow.
I imagine these sold well at comic book conventions.
The final phone in my top five is the Acer Liquid E Ferrari edition.
Acer aren't really famed for their smartphones and, to be honest, the Liquid E only made the list because I couldn't find any other decent collaborations.
Shipped with Android 2.1, but up-datable to 2.2, and powered by a 768 MHz Scorpion processor, the Liquid E is by no means a world beater. In fact, media playback is lousy, the camera is poor and the phone as a whole is quite slow. Quite ironic really considering it is a Ferrari edition.
Considering it's hardware specs, the asking price of around £300 is ludicrous. The selection of Ferrari sounds and wallpapers are so-so but it's the plastic case with an air intake-style vent and the carbon fibre-wrapped Ferrari logo where things start to improve.
Acer have also taken the time to try and make some personal changes to the Android OS, with small spinning wheels at the end of each of the five home screens being the main example of this.
The Ferrari Bluetooth headset is what sealed the Liquid E's place on this list.
Well thats a wrap for now.
Next week I will be listing five of the worst smartphone collaborations so keep an eye out for that.
I am ashamed to say that, because I've only ever had iPhone handsets since their release in 2007 (go ahead and call me an 'Apple Fanboy'), I hadn't seen Swype or any other gesture input up until a month or so ago.
Of course I know my way around Android handsets and their OS but there aren't too many handsets that have this capability built in and, as yet, it isn't available in the Android Market. At present, the majority of people are gaining access to the typing alternative by directly downloading it from the Swype website.
As for iPhone handsets, Swype functionality has not been officially announced, although jailbroken devices can install an add-on called Swype using Cydia's app directory. I've even seen it work. This at least means that we know Swype will be compatible with and can work on iOS.
HTC became one of the first manufacturers to include Swype as a different text input option, with Motorola and Samsung soon following suit. The finger sliding tool also works on tablets.
Following a surge in popularity, Swype was recently bought by speech recognition and digital imaging software maker Nuance. The deal, which was reportedly in the region of $102.5 million, further increases Nuance's smartphone and tablet offerings, with their technology already powering the iPhone 4S assistant Siri.
I have friends who use Swype and they now stare blankly, like a dog out of a window, when you hand them a touchscreen smartphone, occasionally sliding their finger across the screen and then looking up, puzzled as to why the normal touch input is only displaying one character at a time.
Don't even try and hand them a phone with an actually keyboard, they just end up huddled in a corner, crying whilst rocking backward and forward. I call it Swype syndrome and it's highly infectious.
I've only ever tried Swype once and I was nearly hooked, if not for my strong will power I could have quite easily walked down Oxford Street, into the nearest phone shop and swapped my iPhone for a Swype-ready Android handset. It really is that damn good.
The friends I mentioned a couple of paragraphs earlier swear they will never go back to typing and touch input. Swype has changed them and they now fully believe that 'Swyping' will replace normal texting.
Judging by Sony's (formerly Sony Ericsson) actions, it seems that it may well also hold the same opinion. It has just announced it's own gesture input is being brought to it's humongous Xperia range. Check out the video below:
Me? I can see it happening, Swype is fast, intuitive and most importantly, a whole lot more fun than than wearing out your thumb joints typing each letter individually.
This is the story of a man named Google and three women named HTC, Samsung and Motorola.
Originally, Google and HTC were just good friends as HTC moved into a big new city and wanted someone to show her around. Things were going well as she was finding her feet in the world of smartphones.
Google often talked about ruling the world but needed a strong woman to stand by him. Inevitably HTC could no longer resist Google's charms and they fell madly in love.
It was a great relationship. HTC hadn't made big waves in the mobile phone market and probably would have continued to quietly carry on their development until Google needed a mobile phone manufacturer to build their first Android flagship phone.
Along came the HTC Dream aka the T-mobile G1. Google had made his big break and wasn't going to slow down.
Over the following years, HTC continued to be known as the manufacturer of Android phones, or to some as 'Google's girl'.
Samsung and Motorola also joined the company but, in the main, the high-end handsets were created by HTC leading to the creation of the Google Nexus One, Google's first phone although it was made by HTC.
It was kept quite quiet that the Nexus One was made by HTC but everyone knew and HTC didn't seem to mind too much as she was now being known on merit for her achievements.
For a company to build Google's flagship phone has many advantages.
The most obvious is that the company gets to be the first to release the newest version of Android,
It is the only phone that is purely Android,
By being given such a task it's a statement by Google that they see you as the best phone manufacturer around and finally;
But probably most significantly, it shows that you're Google's lover.
The other mobile phone manufacturers one Christmas looked through the frosted glass window of Google's office and saw HTC sat on Google's lap sharing a glass of champagne and started to dream that one day they could share a place alongside him... and they will.
After the Nexus One was released, HTC really started to grow releasing the HTC Desire winning many awards in the process and now firmly establishing herself as the world's biggest smartphone manufacturer. This was a big move for her, she was well respected and her work was now seen as her own and her rewards were not due to her closeness to Google.
She was happy and proud. She'd made it.
HTC continued by producing what is still the best Android skin in Sense. Google was over the moon as HTC began to show off their new open-source clothes. Sales soared and the phones were being held as iPhone killers. Samsung, got very jealous and started to plot HTC's demise.
Samsung decided stopped being the cheap low-end manufacturer and started coming out with some high-end devices that made some waves. The Samsung Galaxy S was unveiled as the sexiest handset on the market with a beautiful Super AMOLED screen (something only Samsung could offer). the Samsung Galaxy S was now arguably the best handset alongside the HTC Desire.
Google's eyes were drawn away from HTC. They started to flirt with Samsung as she got plaudits for a great phone with the most advanced screen on the market. She laughed at all of Google's jokes, she wore more revealing clothing and new exactly what to say to him.
Google hailed the Galaxy S to get more attention and even to annoy HTC who was busy with Sense.
Google didn't like the amount of time HTC spent on Sense, especially as marketing campaigns were starting to be built around Sense and not Android in order to differentiate her from the slew of Android handsets on the market.
HTC wanted to excel. She wanted to be the best. Not at Google's expense but alongside Google.
Cracks started to appear and when HTC started to delay the roll-outs of upgraded versions of Android in order to add her Sense skin, Google became furious!
"A skin can't be more important than the OS" he was heard shouting.
HTC replied "Please, think of the users!"
Google slapped HTC and said "How dare you?!? I did this, all of this for them. And don't you forget it."
Samsung however, was only too happy to roll-out new versions of Android the day after the upgrade was made available, even advertising the fact.
HTC could see things were starting to fall apart. She didn't like what Google had become and there were troubling times ahead. She got a little desperate, releasing every type of smartphone she could to try getting Google back on side and also to put a front to pretend everything was OK, but it was too late.
Google was getting really close to Samsung, and when Samsung released the Galaxy SII that was it.
Google had stayed late one night and found himself in the office with Samsung. She offered him a drink and one thing led to another.
That one thing or the other was now the Samsung Galaxy SII. Google and Samsung proudly flaunted the amazing handset as it broke records and quickly became the best on the market.
Soon after Google made an announcement that it would now be Samsung that would release Google's flagship handsets. Everyone knew but now it had been confirmed.
HTC was embarrassed and scared but still persisted with Android and Sense. She then started seeing Microsoft and released a few Windows Phone 7 handsets but Microsoft wasn't the young, confident guy that she had wanted and so Microsoft ended up with Nokia which, to be fair suits both of them and they look like they have a great future ahead of them.
During this period, Google and Sammy (as she was so affectionately called) released the Nexus S, google's latest handset.
Before Google didn't want any indication that their phones were being made by HTC, he had changed his stance with Sammy as the 'S' was a clear message to all that Sammy was Google's favourite now.
HTC sat in the background with Sony Ericsson and Motorola, claiming to just be happy making Android handsets and not be too bothered about Google and Sammy.
The Galaxy SII and Nexus S became stars and showed just how great an Android handset could be.
But disaster struck. On an alcohol fuelled weekend in Vegas, Apple goaded Google into a quickie wedding with... Motorola.
"Motorola, Google? I thought you were better than that!" Sammy exclaimed.
Apparently Apple and Google were drunk, Apple made some claims about patents and somehow Google decided to put his money where his mouth is and marry Motorola. Did I mention he was really drunk?
Apple then started to pick on Sammy, who Google still loved and seemingly had no aspirations to ditch for Motorola.
Google came back to Sammy stronger than ever, apologised and promised to make things up with her. And he did, they created Google's best handset to date in the Galaxy Nexus which showed off a new OS and UI in Ice Cream Sandwich and in order to prove Google's love for Sammy had both their surnames on it.
Sammy is also about to release the Samsung Note which will help reassure Google that he is with the best in town.
Meanwhile HTC is lost. Ice cream Sandwich looks like it may prove too difficult for HTC to adapt Sense to and Google doesn't seem to care. Why should he? He has not only Sammy but Motorola and, lurking in the shadows, Sony giving him all the attention he wants.
He feels slighted by HTC's fling with Microsoft and her obsession with Sense. He won't show any loyalty to HTC even though it was because of her Google Android is the OS it is today.
So what now for HTC? Well there are rumours that she will take Sense to a better home. Maybe not Microsoft as they look all set to release the Nokia Sea Ray but possibly Palm's WebOS.
Palm, a firm that was also treated badly but looked upon fondly by many. Such a relationship could give them both the boost they need and not only put them back in the limelight but also put a dent in Google's world domination plans.
Let's hope this story has a happy ending. I'll try updating this article as things progress.
Following disappointing sales, Motorola is taking a leaf out of HP's book and slashing the price of the Xoom, although not as drastically as consumers saw with the Touchpad.
The 32GB Wi-Fi-only model is now available at £329, with the 32GB 3G model reduced to £399, from Dixons. The new pricing makes the Motorola significantly cheaper than the 16GB iPad 2 3G, £100 to be exact.
Additionally, news of the Xoom 2, which is expected before the end of the year, will have done nothing to help improve on the 100,000 Xooms sold in the first two months following it's release.
However, this price reduction does make the Android powered device a little more tempting, that said, a further fall in price would make it almost irresistible.
I will start by saying that my previous experience with Acer extends as far as my brother having once owned an Acer Laptop and I occasionally used it. Basically, the point I'm making is that I had no preconceptions when I picked up this tablet for the first time.
Acer currently has two lines of tablets available, the Iconia W series, which is a little bit pricier, and the Iconia A series. You'll also be glad to hear that I can offer a little bit more information, the W stands for Windows 7 and the A stands for Android, makes sense when you think about it really.
So, what we have here is an Acer, Android 3.0, 10" Tablet but I'm sure you would like to know more.
I'll just jump straight in and throw some numbers at you, the A500 weighs 765g, respectable, and measures 260 x 177 x 13.3 mm. All in all, this tablet isn't the slimmest or the lightest around but it's certainly not going to cause you any problems if you want to put it in your bag and carry it around all day.
It wouldn't be out of the question to hear that Acer may have some sort of reflection fetish going on after you've looked at this tablet. The brushed metal rear, darker plastic inserts and screen can almost leave you dazed if the light catches it in a certain way. As a matter of fact, the screen, even when turned on, makes as good a mirror as it does a tablet display.
Along the top of the Iconia you'll find the volume rocker and a rotation lock switch. However, these are made from the cheapest looking silver plastic imaginable, and although they're only small, it still detracts from the overall look. There is also a compartment covered by a sliding insert which, by the way, is far easier to slide off than it is to put back, and this is where sim cards and micro SD cards are inserted. Along the bottom of the A500 there sits a solitary docking connector.
The right side features the charging jack and two USB ports, one of which is a Micro USB port. A mini-HDMI port and earphone jack, along with the weirdly fascinating translucent on/off button are all found on the left side.
Unlike so many other Android tablets the home, back and menu buttons aren't found in the bezel around the screen, they are actually part of the screen. The bezel does, however, have the front facing camera embedded within it. There is also a rear facing camera, with flash, on the back, accompanied by two mesh covered speakers, more on both of those later.
Everything on the Iconia looks neat, precise and orderly, from the front it looks excellent, yet it could have been put together a bit better. By that I mean that the seams of inserts on the rear along with the actual seam of the tablet on either side should have been made less obvious. The devil is in the details.
The Acer offers up a 800 x 1280 pixel, 10.1 (the .1 makes a difference, trust me) inch TFT LCD screen, capable of displaying up to 256K colours. If you compare that to the HTC Flyers 16M colours, it comes out looking a tad bland but, by tablet standards, it isn't too shabby.
Its clarity and crispness is only slightly dampened by the amount of glare that the screen picks up, as well as its tendency to attract fingerprint grease, though a very effective cleaning cloth is also supplied.
Despite boasting about wide viewing angles on the box the glare again restricts how much of the screen you can see and at what angle.
The capacitive touch screen on the A500 is amongst the most responsive I have ever tested, as is the accelerometer, which I put through its paces with a few levels of Need for Speed.
As I mentioned previously, the Iconia comes with a front and rear facing camera. The latter is a 5MP effort with an LED flash, whereas the front facing snapper is only 2MP. I say only 2MP, it's better than the usual VGA numbers that many other tablets are fitted with.
With good light, the rear camera is a little over acceptable for taking still, close up shots, but start playing with the focus and zoom then images just become come a hazy mess of colour.
Here are a couple of sample shots, the portrait shot was taken using the zoom:
You won't be suprised to find out that the he video recording capabilities aren't really any better. The tablet is supposedly capable of 720p recording but, much like the HTC Flyer, it falls far short of that. To be fair, I can't see many people buying the Acer just to walk around holding it up to record video anyway. It's most likely there on the off-chance you bump into Bobby Davro and want video proof to show your friends.
Here is a sample:
Again, I'll get straight into it with more numbers and spec. The A500 comes with either, 16GB or 32GB storage and 1GB of RAM. It gets better, it is also packed with a Tegra 2 T20 chipset, a dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor and GeForce graphics processing unit.
A couple more little bonuses are flash 10.1 and Bluetooth 2.1 support.
The rear grille covered speakers I mentioned earlier, with the help of Dolby Mobile 2, actually sound pretty darn good, well in tablet terms at least.
Don't go expecting ground shaking bass or pure musical clarity because that's not what I'm saying, but they perform admirably during gameplay and, at a stretch, it is probably strong enough to share a movie with three people sat in the back of a car.
One seriously annoying thing I encountered was that before you can begin taking media from and putting it onto the tablet, you must first go to Acer's website and download a 82Mb driver. I've never had to do this with any other Android tablet I've used, they've all been plug and play.
Android 3.0 is one of the main selling points of this Acer Tab and, aesthetically at least, it doesn't disappoint. Everything is laid out nicely, flows with no lagging and does everything you'd expect it to do.
Acer have, of course, included some of their own apps and regular readers will know that duplicate apps grind my gears.
Well, whilst using the Acer, even the duplicate apps didn't bother me, it brought with it a sense of serenity. Possibly because the apps that were duplicates had subtle differences.
For example, clear.fi multimedia browser basically does the same thing as Android's Gallery and Music apps, but clear.fi looks as if it has had much more time spent on it and the level of functionality is greatly increased.
The drag and pull lock screen, which is becoming increasingly common, is another nice touch, however, my favourite bit, by far is the web browsing widget. It sits in the top right corner of the home screen and can contain up to 14 bookmarked pages, all of which scroll smoothly down as you run your finger over it.
Despite the extra 4.5mm thickness that the A500 has over the iPad 2, it only comes with a Li-polymer 3260 mAh battery and that that doesn't come close to the longevity that the Apple device can offer.
You can see the Iconia's battery life slowly creep down with moderate usage and if I owned one I'm sure that one day, inevitably, when I'd need it most I'd have forgotten to charge it and end up running out of power.
The Acer Iconia A500, available at around £369 for the 32GB model, or £349 for 16GB, is a solid Android tablet. It comes close to being labelled average but the power of the Tegra dual-core processor is its saving grace. That, and the fact that the RAM means apps and Honeycomb can run without the slightest snag.
The screen, camera and build quality could be improved upon but it's a constant balancing act between performance and cost. In this case Acer have been sensible, it could have become iconic if they'd taken more risks to differentiate themselves.
The Asus Eepad Transformer, around £419, and Motorola Xoom, £399, are the alternatives and they come with very similar specs but better screens. The only other major difference is the additional skin that the manufacturers put on top of Android.
Price and personal preference are the deciders here, 3.0 hasn't yet reached it's full potential and whilst the spec of these tablets are almost identical the performance and strong points of each device varies.
Motorola have labelled this "The World Most Powerful Smartphone", which after my review I may have found some truth in, all be it with help from a number of accessories. Luckily for all you readers I have also been able to get my hands on a shed-load of these accessories, yes, yes don't worry I also got the laptop dock from the advert.
Currently, there is little in the market that can rival this dual core Motorola in terms of processing power. There is the LG Optimus 2X and the upcoming HTC Sensation but neither of these alternative dual core smartphones have been the subject of a huge media campaign like the Atrix.
Motorola are not looking to gain a head start or set a benchmark here, they are looking to revolutionise how we use smartphones and other devices. The question, can the Atrix, fuelled by it's 1GHz dual-core Tegra 2 processor, be the phone that achieves that goal? If not we can at least see that they have come a long way since 'Hello Moto'.
The Atrix is half black plastic and half scratch resistant Gorilla glass. The glass covers the 4-inch, 540x960 touchscreen, along with the familiar Android buttons and the front facing camera.
The Motorola measures 2.5 inches wide, 4.63 inches long, and 0.43 inches thick, making it almost as thin as an iPhone 4. It weighs in at 135 grams, which may sound heavy, but when holding the phone you don't really notice the weight, in fact I think it feels half the weight.
The power and lock button, as well as the 3.5mm headphone jack, is situated on a slope along the top of the phone and it doubles as a fingerprint scanner. I'll admit I did feel a bit 007 when I was swiping my finger the first few times. Once set up, Motorola have not lied, it does only recognise your fingerprint.
It is a nice little party piece to show your friends. But, be warned, you can be left a bit redfaced if the Atrix decides you have swiped too fast or that your swipe was not long enough, which happened to me on a number of occasions.
The volume rocker sits in the top right corner while the Micro USB and HDMI ports are on the bottom left. The rear is covered in a simple yet enticing pattern and has the 5MP camera with LED placed in the top left, with a speaker almost in line with it at the bottom of the phone.
Overall the Atrix is sleek and mysterious looking but a bit bland. More expensive and impressive materials could have been used but that could then have compromised how durable the phone feels. I would recommend you buy a case as this Motorola is rather smooth and at around £500 simfree you don't even want to think about dropping it.
Although the Atrix comes with 2.2 Froyo Motorola have stated that a 2.3 Gingerbread update is on the way. In the meantime should there be any updates for the pre-loaded Google apps they are available to update seperartly. The Android has been customised with Motorola's much-maligned Motoblur. Thankfully Motoblur works well on the Atrix, the social media widgets are nice and colourful and they can be moved and resized across the 7 home screens.
It comes preloaded with a selection of Motorola and Orange apps, some more useful than others. Quickoffice is another notable inclusion.
I found myself vigorously shaking the Atrix at times, trying it to flip and rotate the screen using the accelerometer in certain apps. It seems that the layout of each app is pre-programmed. It changes of its own accord when you open the camera and when it is docked.
The keypad is one of the best I have used on any Android device. It is responsive, doesn't get sluggish, and the buttons are well spaced. Furthermore, by pushing a microphone button you can speak, rather than type, texts and emails.
After thorough testing I can confirm the Atrix is a polite phone, if you utter any swearwords it chooses to display them as ####.
Moving on, similarly to the INQ I reviewed a while back, there isn't predictive text but suggestive text. A bar with a list of words appears above the keyboard as you type and in time the phone learns what words you use most and prioritises them. Very handy indeed.
Need For Speed, which is very graphic heavy for a smartphone game, was as polished as Harry Hill's head. The 1GB of RAM that the Atrix is equipped with helps toward the smooth running and multi-tasking that the phone is capable of.
Playback of videos I recorded did not stutter once, the keyboard never lagged and the phone only takes a few seconds to fire up.
This Motorola comes with 16GB of internal memory but of course that can be added to with the MicroSD slot.
Camera & Video
I've already mentioned the 5MP pixel camera and the interface is very user friendly and simple. It includes effects such as negative and sepia, as well as scenes such as night and sport.
The front facing VGA camera obviously isn't as good in terms of picture quality but it does work well for video calls and, if your still in spy mode from all the finger swiping, taking sneaky snaps of people sat behind you.
The camera also doubles as a 720p HD video recorder, which works well even in low lighting. It even copes well with movement as blurring and distortion are kept to a minimum.
The earpiece and microphone on the front of the Atrix deliver and receive good levels of clear sound. There was the occasional crackle during calls but nothing more than that.
The mesh-covered speaker on the rear of the Motorola is impressively loud with low levels of distortion. In fact I even turned it down whilst playing Need for Speed because it started to sound like I was at a NASCAR event.
The Atrix comes with a large 1930mAh battery inside, bigger than the rival LG Optimus 2X's 1500mAh, and it coped well with around 24 hours of fairly heavy usage, including web browsing, constant twittering, gaming and phone calls, from one single full charge.
Realistically you could squeeze a lot more time out of the device if you keep your usage in check and adjust the brightness and Wi-Fi settings.
Motorola give official battery life estimates of 540h talk time and 400h standby. Put simply, the Atrix could cope with two days sensible usage without needing a boost. Impressive considering that in the past Android devices were notorious for poor battery life.
Now we come to the Laptop dock, which many gadgets fanatics have gotten themselves all worked up about and looking at it you can see why.
It weights marginally over 1kg and is constructed from a combo of soft touch plastic and brushed black metal. It has an 11.5-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 and a full width keyboard.
The trackpad, which looks large in proportion to the rest of the laptop, also includes a long metal button, divided by a line down the middle. Just below this is the small battery button, which displays the readout when pushed. The back features two USB ports and the power jack.
There is no denying the beauty and workmanship of this accessory, however the single touch trackpad, which also doesn't allow single finger scrolling, ruins webpage browsing. It worked far better with the Bluetooth mouse.
The laptop is merely an ornament until the Atrix is docked, then it springs to life. The lapdock also charges the phone, even when not plugged into a power supply, all whilst meeting Motorola's estimate of 8-10 hours of usage.
The software that allows the Atrix to effectively turn into a laptop is called Webtop. When docked Webtop displays a window of the Artix's phone screen on the desktop and you can use it as normal.
The only software that comes on the laptop is a selection of Motorola media centres, Facebook and weirdly Firefox. Considering Google is already aligned with Android, surely Google chrome should have been used.
All in all, the laptop dock is very exciting and looks amazing but in practice the software and over all usability let it down. Motorola are definitely on to something and with more work this could and most probably will be a huge success in the future. However, for the £250 it costs you could get a decent netbook.
The Multi-media desk dock and remote, which costs around £65, fairs a little better, mainly because of the software. The dock is a slab of black plastic, similar to the charging dock next to it in the picture, with an HDMI out and 3 USB ports on the back.
The Entertainment Centre that Motorola have come up with is an easy to navigate interface that is used to access videos, music and images. The remote has to be reasonably close to guarantee that when you push a button it will register.
This may be more valuable for business men in presentations but for home use it is less hassle just to plug the HDMI straight from the phone into the TV and control it by hand.
In terms of other Android devices, despite running 2.2, it is without doubt one of the best smartphones available now. On paper the specs are impressive and thankfully they don't disappoint when put to the test.
This phone isn't just for businessmen, Motorola and Android's willingness to allow heavy levels of customisation mean that you can easily turn this phone into your phone.
Available for free on Orange 24-month contracts priced £35 and over you'll be in it for the long hall but the upcoming 2.3 update should help tide you over.
If you do decide the Atrix is for you, which I can see many people doing, you then face the dilemma of deciding whether to delve into your wallet once more for the accessories.
I was extremely excited to get my hands on the laptop and my expectations were high but the novelty soon wore off and reality set in. Motorola have to be given some credit for their efforts, even though the laptop and multimedia dock look brilliant and are excellent in principle, they are flawed. They add to the experience but not enough to justify their current price tags.
I think we can all expect to see other manufacturers follow suit soon. Hopefully they will learn from Motorola's shortcomings because these ideas and accessories are certainly well worth developing further.