Motorola LapDock 100

A few purposes for this post:

Lapdock™ for  MOTOROLA ATRIX™ 4GWrite a post on the My Shiny New Toy (the Motorola Atrix 2 4G) using the the LapDock.

Talk about the WordPress for Android application on the LapDock.

Talk about some of the other applications on the LapDock.

Talk about the LapDock.

Pretty clever device, overall. A nice keyboard (even though small, it’s bigger than the one on the device) and a 10.1" screen. Very handy. The device feels a lot like my Acer and Dell 10.1" notebooks; a tiny bit lighter as no hard drive.

Things that rock:

  • Having a screen
  • Having a keyboard
  • The battery (the battery charges the phone to capacity while connected)
  • Some applications, most notably, Firefox and QuickOffice
  • Other applications: The Email client, the WordPress
  • Keyboard navigation between applications is decent .. once you figure out the Function-row keys (hint: hold F1 to get back to the phone Home screen .. that was a seminal moment for me in application navigation).
  • Speaking of function row keys: the other icons on this row let you dim the screen, navigate media, audio volume and so on. Very nice.
  • The sync feature between the LapDock, WordPress and Windows Live Writer on my PC. While not perfect, the content flows between the applications rather nicely.
  • The Print Screen button works nicely.
  • The USB port (there are two) recognized my wireless mouse. Very nice.

Not so much:

  • Alt-Tab doesn’t work as expected when working with phone applications. The LapDock sees the phone as a single application.
  • To the point above, there are some inconsistencies as how to switch between applications .. in some cases, the Escape button takes you to the home page, in others, it acts as a ‘back’ button in the current application.
  • To that point, the Escape key may exit the current application.
  • Holding the F1 (Home) screen is manna to switch between applications. It’s reliable, and brings you up a list of currently-running applications.
  • I’d like to have more control over the battery; I can carry a spare phone battery, or charge my phone on my laptop .. I’d rather have more time on the LapDock and a dead phone battery than less time on the LapDock with a full one.
  • Speaking of battery, why doesn’t the LapDock charge from a micro-USB like the phone? I’m carrying yet another power brick.
  • The Delete key functions just like the Backspace key, removing the character to the left (instead of the character at the cursor). Ick.
  • Control-keys on the keyboard don’t quite behave as expected; Control-right arrow doesn’t leap from word to word.
  • Function keys on the keyboard don’t quite behave as expected; Function-page down, doesn’t. Function-Home takes you to the phone home screen; a bit annoying whist typing until you get used to it.
  • The Firefox browser is ‘seen’ by many applications as a mobile browser, and while powerful enough to function fully (including Adobe Flash), there doesn’t seem to be a way to override this perception on certain sites (Microsoft: I’m talking to you).
  • The USB port didn’t recognize my USB headset; while I get this, some device recognition (so I could search for a driver) would be nice.
  • The battery meter on the LapDock is a press-and-hold of the power button .. seems like there should be an app with a UI for that.
  • NO clue as to firmware updates for the LapDock on the Motorola site.

The LapDock is a new application platform and as such, is lacking in applications at the moment. The home page points you to a YouTube application and several others, but not as many as I’d like. The LapDock can run applications installed on the phone, but it does so in a stretched-screen view; usable, but not optimal, as the text is LARGE, and only allows for about a dozen lines. Let’s hope that the platform catches on, or that it is easy enough to write for the platform by managing the form factor.

On to WordPress. It’s great to have a keyboard and a full screen. It’s also great that WordPress saves drafts to my account when online .. this makes it handy to stub a post from the LapDock, save it to draft and then tidy it up in Windows Live Writer when back on the PC. I need to play a bit with this; for an archival post, I’d probably run it through WLW before posting .. for something of a more whimsical nature, this client would work just fine. Note: this is an archival post .. so I will pass through WLW.

I’m not as impressed with the editing experience of the WordPress application served into the Lapdock on the phone. As above, it runs well enough, but it lacks a number of features that would make it world-class. While Bold, Italic, Underline, Strikethrough, Links and Quoted content is supported, bullets aren’t. What the heck?

A bit more annoying: there doesn’t seem to be a way to double-click on a word to select it; instead, it’s a right-click and ‘select word’, but then, no way to click one of the buttons to modify the formatting. The only way seems to hold the shift key while arrowing over the word to select it, then pressing the button. It’s a shame that Control-B (bold), Control-I (Italic), Control-U (underline) and Control-K (link) aren’t supported.

My gut tells me:

  • 60% of the Atrix-bearing population could use this device and be very, very happy with it. With a bit of workload adjustment and some laptop sync magic, it will far surpass trying to do any serious work on the mobile device by itself.
  • The other 40% will find they cannot do required things like write code, work on complex spreadsheets and play Facebook games with any performance. To this group (I’m one of them), the LapDock is a way to lighten my load while running errands, save some laptop battery on a long flight, and so on.

All in all, it’s an interesting device, and if you make the effort to work with it, you may find it meets your needs as a very portable option for light workloads.

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