Motorola Lapdock 100 Review

Chris Burns - Oct 31, 2011, 1:17pm CDT
Motorola Lapdock 100 Review

Motorola has since the first ATRIX device been pushing a mobile environment it calls Webtop, and here in one of two of its newest Webtop-based devices, the Lapdock 100, working in this world is a strangely enticing option. One of the set of tests I’m putting this Lapdock through is actually creating this post using the Lapdock itself NEARLY exclusively. I’ve not quite been able to bring myself to use it for any sort of image processing yet, but everything inside typing, highlighting, right-clicking, and the basics of blogging seem to be working just fine thus far. How’s this device hooked up with a Motorola smartphone work out for the rest of an everyday set of activities? We shall see!

Hardware

Though I’ve got a couple of compatible Motorola devices to test with the Lapdock, unless otherwise noted I’ll be working with the ATRIX 2, a device that either also is or will be soon posted on SlashGear in a full review as well. One of the most instantly apparent differences between this Lapdock and the one that came out earlier this year with the original ATRIX is the amount of devices that are compatible. This new round of Webtop Laptops has a cord that plugs into the microHDMI/microUSB port combo that the newest round of Motorola smartphones have, and contrary to what we saw at the DROID RAZR release, the device doesn’t then just have to sit on the table. Instead, as you can see, there’s a rubbery-material-coated opening behind the display, right above the cord, that allows you to pocket whichever smartphone you’ve got plugged in.

Thusly this Lapdock can hold and work with the ATRIX 2, DROID BIONIC, DROID RAZR*, Photon, ELECTRIFY, and future Webtop devices as well, though Motorola is only really promoting the Lapdock 100 as working with the Photon and RAZR for now. Make sure to bring your device in to wherever the Lapdock 100 is up and functioning in the store to check it out OR ask about your device specifically wherever you plan on purchasing it. Make sure!

UPDATE: The DROID RAZR certainly works with this Lapdock, but because it is such a thin device, it doesn’t sit properly in the rubber pocket in back. You’ll just have to have it rest on the table politely.

The Lapdock 100 is not a replacement for the laptop or desktop computer you already own. Instead, if I may be so bold, it’s an introduction of a new device that will have you considering how, when, and why you might want to use it for an amount of time before it’s able to be worked into your daily workflow (or playflow, if you prefer.) The closest device category to this, in my opinion, is the keyboard dock for attaching to a tablet. While Webtop is an interesting take on how Android can be utilized in the desktop space, it appears at the moment just to be a slight extension of what Android looks like on a Motorola smartphone. We’ll talk about that in a moment in the software section.

The laptop itself has the look of a device conceived of by designers who wanted to create something new rather than creating another flat plain slab as many laptop-making manufacturers have been prone to do as of late. It’s dark gray hard plastic and has a lovely incline which allows for the speakers to sit under the tent that is the near-back-end of the device. There’s two full-sized USB ports in the back for things like mice and USB storage sticks. There’s also a power port back there that’ll work with the cord you’ve been given in the package, and there’s a simple lock-hole on the left of the device so you can secure it at an event (or in your dorm room, if that’s your deal.)

The keyboard has your regular full QWERTY set of keys plus volume keys, light and dark buttons for the display, play, next, back, and the Android home row of buttons that you’ve been seeing on your smartphones since the beginning: Home, Search, Menu, and Back. The keyboard itself has no space between any of the keys, making for a compact situation when typing. Because I’m used to a full-sized keyboard with a significant amount of space between each key, typing on this Lapdock doesn’t feel as natural as it should – but it’s not impossible.

Similarly the touchpad below the keyboard works alright, but isn’t up to par with that of your fully-functional laptop. It works, but it can get a bit clumsy if you’re attempting to do something like play Angry Birds. That said, this Lapdock certainly isn’t made to make your gaming experience any easier unless you’re looking to play Zynga games and games from Kongregate, both environments available and fully functional via the full Firefox web browser.

The speakers on this device, though they sit below the back and outward in a unique fashion, do not add up to full-fledged laptop speakers. The MacBook Air (which you see toting a SPECK cover in the photo above,) has speakers that blow the Lapdock 100 away. Similarly, though Motorola isn’t quite being specific with consumers about the display, I can say very unscientifically that it’s OK but by no means great. Viewing angles are at 90 degrees before getting a bit washed out, and again this is simply no match for any of the current MacBook range.

Software

Firefox comes pre-installed and works just as well as you’d expect your Firefox browser to work in any environment, and therein lies one of the true strengths of this device. Like what you’d do with something like a Chromebook, you’ll more than likely gravitate toward the browser for most of your work and play here with the Lapdock as not just one whole heck of a lot of other apps work in the Webtop world. You can, however, also open your Android phone window up to full screen and essentially turn your smartphone into a non-touch tablet with a keyboard.

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Motorola Accessories hands-on [at the DROID RAZR release]

Webtop on the Lapdock will be used by those looking to see what’s possible with their Motorola phone, but unless they’re looking to make an extra effort to convert themselves to a whole new slightly slower functioning landscape here with this new piece of hardware, I can’t see anyone but Motorola super-fans being absolutely satisfied with this device. Webtop works to make Android appear to be much closer to a desktop operating system like Mac OS X, but because it’s so similar, it feels like its lacking.

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Motorola ATRIX 2 Accessories and Webtop hands-on

The best use of Webtop here on the Lapdock 100 is to make a phone call while browsing the web. You can also do some quick texting with your keyboard while listening to music, and you can watch a movie on the 10.1-inch “high resolution” screen. The thing with this device is that it’s limited only by the device that you plug into it. It doesn’t work with just any ol’ device, you’ll have to have a Motorola Webtop-enabled device to use it, but it is truly the smartphone you’re working with here simply transformed by the bigger bit of hardware.

Wrap-Up

Do yourself a favor and try the Lapdock 100 out before purchasing it. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you are planning on picking up one of Motorola’s many new Webtop-enabled smartphones in the near future, it is a neat option to have. Note that because you can also access Webtop from any display so long as you’ve got the right Motorola dock, this Lapdock offers just the ability to work in a mobile way where a dock would require you to use a separate stationary display.

This Lapdock works with most Webtop-enabled Motorola devices and is set to “likely” be working with future Motorola Webtop devices as well. Have a look above and below at the hands-on video and photos and feel free to ask any questions you might still have about the Lapdock below.


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47 Responses to Motorola Lapdock 100 Review

  1. What’s the resolution?  How is the screen?  Is it glossy?  How are the speakers?  How’s the build quality?

    • Most of these things are addressed above, but the resolution isn’t being made clear by Motorola as of yet, its glossy, and the screen is OK. Viewing angles aren’t especially good, more like 90 degrees up and down, and the speakers are between a smartphone and a real laptop – aka not the best, but not the worst. The build quality is similar to that of the smartphones you’ll be plugging into the lapdock.

  2. The phone should have been the trackpad for the laptop. Can’t believe how they didn’t do that.. 

    • I have a feeling that the idea was already initiated and therefor would have had to have been licensed by Motorola, so they instead made something relatively new

    • not sure that would be the best. For one, people like a physical trackpad button to click/clickable trackpads. Plus most trackpads aren’t exactly smooth; they are textured. A phone as a trackpad would feel weird. A second problem is that there would be no cross device (and future) compatibility. As it is right now the same lapdock works with the Atrix 2, Droid Bionic, Droid Razr, sprint Photon and *should* work with future motorola webtop phones. 

    • I was thinking the same thing but with so many different phones it may have been too hard to make it so the dimensions would fit all the phones of now and in the future.  Still would be cool though but maybe it would use too many resources right now as well.  Another thing is that the touch is much more sensitive on a phone screen and may have gotten in the way too often. 

      Other than the cord at the back being a little short for my Photon without giving it a little bend without kinking it I am very happy with the hardware.  Typing this and all the other features of the LapDock100 hardware have made this Photon my most useful phone to date.

  3. Isn’t that thing as expensive and much less versatile / useful than a full-fledged netbook ? WHat’s the point ?

    • There is no point on AT&T’s network. They require you to have a tethering plan to use 3G/4G data while your phone is in the lapdock (kind of stupid if you ask me).

      Verizon and Sprint do not make you get a tethering plan. Thus, if you don’t have a tethering plan on sprint/verizon, the lapdock allows you to use your phone as a 3g/4g netbook without paying the $30/month tethering fees. Now if you are shelling out for a tethering plan,  this device likely isn’t for you and you probably are better off with a netbook/wifi tethering. 

      Personally I don’t have the money to drop on a data/tethering plan and love the lapdock (using it with the photon on sprints network) as it gives me access the internet in places where wifi is unavailable (the park, roadtrips, etc.). 

  4. Are you going to do a review of the stand alone dock that came in the box as well?
    That looks more interesting actually.

    • No because it’s the same as it has been for several devices now — I recommend you go here: to see a nice video of its functionality. http://androidcommunity.com/motorola-photon-4g-review-20110729/

  5. Does it charge your phone’s battery like some other docks?

    Isn’t this supposed to cost $200? Comparisons to a Macbook Air don’t seem to make sense to me, it’s a totally different device, at a price point that is miles apart.

  6. You left out the only reason to get a lapdock which is that there is no tethering charge to use 3/4g data with the lapdock on verizon and sprints network. This is not true for at&t making the device essentially worthless for atrix 2 users. You might as well just get a netbook and use wifi tethering as the cost will be the same.

    Now if you are on verizon or sprint there is no need for a tethering plan meaning that this saves you 30 bucks a month, a good deal.

  7. I should clarify, the lapdock will still work with the atrix 2 without a tethering plan its just that (assuming its like the atrix 1) when you try to access 3G/4G data you’ll get a webpage saying that you need to add a tethering plan for it to work. 

  8. If someone was thinking of replacing a netbook used for papers, slide shows, word processing etc. nothing too intense but normal everyday school or work tasks could this handle that short of use. On that note how would cross over from Windows program (word)? Maybe a dumb question but would be great to get rid of the netbook.

    • This has no video out so it wouldn’t be able to do powerpoint presentations (I assume that’s what you mean by slides). As for word, it does google just fine. Obviously the problem with google docs is that you need internet access to use it. However, as I said below you don’t need a tethering plan to use 3g/4g data with verizon and sprint. ATT is greedy though and makes you pay extra if you wish to have 3g/4g data with this device.

      The keyboard is kind of cramped. It is also just a little laggy which makes speed typing less than ideal. I wouldn’t want it as my primary computer (I have a desktop for that). Rather I see it more as an inexpensive way to get a 3g/4g netbook that is useful whenever I am on the road/without wifi.

      • The Lapdock 500Pro has a VGA output and would be great for a student. I run my entire business for the 100 now and have a Webtop Dock at home as well. I have been a mobile professional for nearly 20years this is one of the best devices I have used.

  9. You just compared a $1000+ Macbook Air to a $299 lapdock that extends mobile phone capabilities.  What exactly was your point?  I have an Alienware laptop that will smoke them both.  Wanna throw that into the comparison too?  Since we’re going apples to apples…  we might as well throw in one bad ass apple.

  10. I appreciate the comparison with MacBook Air. If productivity and mobility are reasons for buying these devices and prices aren’t, some of us could make more informed decisions. I am glad this article was catered for people like me.

  11. Would love to get one of these. Ordered one in mid-November and it STILL hasn’t shipped. Their customer service is based Central America and their reps are hard to understand. They have little or no knowledge of the company or how to get information. My excitement over this has turned into a nightmare. I wish I had never tried buying a Motorola product. It has not been worth dealing with the company.

  12. I really would have liked to hear more about the FF browser. Does it upgrade on the same schedule as regular FF, or at all? What about add-ons, extensions, and plug-ins? What about syncing? Is it fast at: rendering webpages? Is it slower than a midrange desktop would be? Is it faster than a netbook? A “fully featured FireFox browser” seems to be the major selling point of this thing, but details are lacking as to what that actually means!

  13.  i bought the bionic lapdock on 2/2012 and the spacebar is slow to respond perhaps due to spellchecks.  other than that issue it is a 3/8″ thick hd notebook with 4g data 31 mbps down and 12 mbps up in the bay area

  14. I wish to add my two cents here, if for nothing else, to review the reviewer. While I am stumbling upon this article about 1/2 a year after it was written, it was still relevant to me and my research into this accessory for my Droid 4 (read “iPhone destroyer).
    As others have pointed out, to have compared the Lapdock to a MacBook Air is seriously lopsided and has a hint of Apple fanboyism. For Mr. Burns to then reply to his critic with a question that Mr Burns SHOULD have been able to answer own was not only unprofessional, but, in my opinion, erodes whatever credibility he had left after reading his review.
    Let’s consider this one fact… for around the $200 price range, I can have my already cool phone virtually eliminate any need I might have for buying a netbook. And then some.

  15. Does this have an audio jack? If not, is it possible to connect one using a usb adapter?

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