Citrix integration gives Motorola Atrix business edge

Dual-core processor power and cloud computing capability via integration with Citrix Receiver tops some of the features that makes Motorola’s Atrix smartphone a formidable contender to Apple’s iPhone 4.

Motorola Mobility Canada recently announced that its new smartphone will be available in Canada exclusively from Bell Mobility starting March 17.

The Android 2.2 –powered Atrix, which features a dual-core processor and the an HD display for rich graphics, an Adobe Flash Player for Web browsing, and Motorola’s Webtop application for “PC-like experience from any screen” will be available for about $169 with a minimum $50 voice and data three-year plan from Bell or $599 without a plan, according to David Petrou, director of sales and business development for Motorola Mobility Canada.

Pitched by Motorola as the “most powerful smartphone,” the Atrix blurs the line between wireless phones and computers with the availability of a thin and light laptop dock, which when connected to the Atrix, comes to life just like an ordinary laptop. The dock sports an 11-inch screen and a full size QWERTY keyboard. Another dock and remote control ensemble enables the Atrix to connect to an HD TV to view videos, movies or documents on a much larger screen.

Key features and specifications are:

  • A dual-core 1 Ghz processor
  • HD display – packing 540×960 resolution into 4-inches (10.1 cm) 
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Up to 48GB of storage (16 GB internal and optional 32 GB MicroSD card)
  • Powered by Android 2.2
  • Front- and rear-facing cameras for video chat and the ability to record and output in HD
  • Biometric fingerprint reader for extra security
  • Less than 11 mm thin
  • Motoblur app helps users keep up to date on social networks with automatic delivery of messages and enables remote location, wipe and restore of data in case the device is lost or stolen
  • Download speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps and Mobile Hotspot service for connecting up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices

“What will appeal to many business users is the Atrix’s cloud computing capabilities through the available Citrix Receiver integration,” said Petrou during a demonstration of the device this week in Toronto. The app delivers virtual desktop functionality to the Artix providing users with the ability to boot into Microsoft Office’s Web-hosted version.

“The real magic happens when you launch Citrix on the Atrix,” said Petrou.

When users sign into their company Web site, they are presented with a Web interface that displays applications from XenApp (Citrix’s cloud-based application delivery service), said Petrou. “Instantly, your phone screen or the laptop dock screen or TV screen displays a full Windows 7 virtual desktop. The screen looks as if it’s your local PC with you Word, PDF documents and spreadsheets.”

The system is set up for multitasking as well. If a call is received while the desktop functions are in use, the use is given the option to answer or ignore the call. “You can speak through a speakerphone or Bluetooth headset while working in you Citrix session,” said Petrou.

The smartphone as a PC

The Atrix takes the idea that smartphones are really PCs that go in your pocket to a new level.

The biggest limitation to using a phone for productivity or entertainment is directly related to the relatively small screen size and lack of proper keyboard, he said. The Atrix docks do away with those issues entirely. Using the QuickOffice Android app that’s bundled on the device, I was able to write this column starting on my living room TV, continuing on the laptop dock and finishing on my Mac.
It’s a transformative experience and points the way to the future.

Related story: iPhone 4, iPad, Android leap in business adoption

Is it a perfect experience? No. Android was made for touch, and substituting a mouse and keyboard at times made for a somewhat difficult experience. In addition, the multimedia dock costs $190, and the laptop dock if purchased with the phone (which is $199) costs $300, and if purchased separately goes for $500. That’s pretty expensive for peripherals that don’t have CPUs, RAM or storage and can’t be used with any other device on the market. Everything is stored, driven and powered by the phone.

That said, the Atrix pushes the envelope for what a mobile device can be, and the modular integration is nothing short of a breakthrough that I expect to be replicated and evolved over time.
The ability to use one device and having to manage only one device is quite appealing, and I expect that we’ll see more of this type of implementation in the weeks and months ahead. The benefits to users and IT folk are quite clear. If you want to see the future of how personal computing might evolve, just put a Mototrola Atrix in your pocket.

Nestor is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blogs on Blogs and join the Facebook Page.

Michael Gartenberg is a research director at Gartner. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter @Gartenberg .

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