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Motorola Atrix vs the Always Innovating Smart Book

It is not an overstatement that the Motorola Atrix smartphone was one of the bright stars of CES 2011. An often-mentioned, breakthrough feature of the  Atrix is its modularity, namely that it can be placed into a netbook dock which gives it work-time (and battery recharge) and a desktop-like work environment (Linux based).

It is worth mentioning that this concept is not brand new and that a smaller company called Always Innovating (AI) has a similar, even more modular product: the Smart Book.

The main difference between the two products is that the computing core of the Smart Book is only a MID, not a real mobile phone like the Atrix.

The advantages of the Atrix over the Smart Book (SB):

  • The computing core of the Atrix is a real, usable mobile phone, not only a MID (IP phone as AI calls it) as with the SB. The Atrix phone is a high-end Android phone with beautiful, high-res screen (comparable to the iPhone4).
  • The computing core of the Atrix has 1GB of RAM and a powerful Tegra2 (dual-core Cortex A9) instead of the last gen, slow Cortex-A8 SOC and only 512Mb RAM in the Smart Book.
  • Computing core of the Atrix has a built-in 3G modem (with strong HSUPA and HSDPA) while the SB has only wifi radio and requires you to use an external 3G modem to connect to the internet when on-the-go.

The advantages of the Smart Book (SB) over the Atrix:

  • Much more modular. The SB has tablet jacket AND keyboard/netbook dock for the tablet jacket, while the Atrix only has a netbook jacket for the phone. The SB’s tablet jacket has a capacitive touch interface
  • The SB has real a real desktop operating system (Ubuntu) running when in desktop mode while the the Atrix has only Webtop (that only looks like a full blown desktop but it is only a Splashtop-like quick-linux OS, so it is limited to a selection of programs and is not easy to extend with apps).
  • The SB has 2 inner USB ports for replaceable 3G modem or storage key which can always ship safely within the netbook dock (no protrusions)
  • The SB’s netbook dock can be used as an independent bluetooth keyboard
  • The SB’s tablet screen can be used as a secondary display of a desktop (DisplayLink)
  • The SB has a dockable (into the talet) HDMI to USB adapter (DisplayLink)

In order to be the perfect companion, the Atrix needs to:

  • Increase its modularity by separating the netbook dock into a tablet and a keyboard stand or at least release a tablet dock as well
  • Upgrade the Webtop desktop environment to a real, powerful desktop Linux (aka Ubuntu 10.04) or at least ensure that Ubuntu can also be used in place of Webtop. It is important that the user be able to switch between Android and Ubuntu real time

The Smart Book could be a worthy contender to the Atrix by:

  • Upgrading the computing core to a dual-core OMAP4 with 1GB of speedy RAM
  • The computing core needs to be a real-word Android mobile phone with a strong HSPA data modem

I believe Motorola is in a better position to make the Atrix a one-stop computing solution but I also root for Always Innovating to make the Smart Book a successful product.

Both products clearly mark the future: modular, mobile computing for everyone.

  1. Paolo
    January 30, 2011 at 20:54

    I.. I.. I agree completely

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