Review: Motorola Droid Bionic
Verizon Wireless and Motorola are offering the same series of docks and accessories for the Droid Bionic that were offered to the Atrix 4G (AT&T) earlier this year. The docks and accessories expand the capabilities of the Droid Bionic a bit depending on which one you choose.
There is a standard dock that only charges and holds the Bionic; there is a multimedia dock — called the HD Station — that lets the Bionic attach to an HDTV, stereo system, and puts it in “Webtop” mode; there is a small Webtop accessory (looks like an adapter); and there is the laptop dock.
The standard dock is little more than a stand for the Droid Bionic, though it will put the Bionic into a sort-of media mode for better access to music and other media apps.
The HD Station multimedia dock puts the Bionic into Webtop mode and can be used to hook the Bionic up to an HDTV. Once the Bionic is in place and an HDMI cable plugged into your TV, simply choose the video content you want to watch via the media-centric menus, be it prerecorded movies or stuff you captured with the Bionic itself. Video playback at 1080p on my TV was decent, but not the same quality I can get from regular HD content from my cable provider.
With Webtop mode activated, the Bionic displays a Firefox browser on your TV (or computer monitor), and it can be hooked up to a number of accessories via the three USB ports. The HD Station costs $99.
The laptop dock cradles the Bionic behind the display, and will charge it when the dock is plugged in. Placing the Bionc in the dock automatically launches Webtop mode. The laptop dock goes beyond simply mimicking the Bionic's display; it also offers a few extra features.
The laptop dock itself is (still) heavy and bulky. It is identical to the one used by the Atrix, save for the actual cradle used to hold the phone. The cradles are different. The cradle for the Bionic is on the back hinge, and swings open to accommodate the phone. This rotating cradle is a bit flimsy. There are two USB ports and a charging port on the back edge of the laptop dock. They also support flash drives, which can be accessed from the Bionic for swapping files around.
The laptop dock screen is plenty big, bright, and has decent resolution. The dock has a real QWERTY keyboard, complete with a row for numbers, arrow keys, etc. It has a good-sized trackpad, and two trackpad buttons. The keyboard felt a little small to me, but the feedback of the keys was good enough. It's way better than typing on a small glass screen, that's for sure.
One option of the “WebTop” mode displays the Bionic's regular interface on the laptop screen. You have full control over the phone, its apps, and functions. It conveniently offers quick access to 9 different functions (Mobile View, Phone, Contacts, Messaging, Media, Files, Motorola Zone, Firefox, Facebook) in an array of shortcuts placed at the bottom of the screen. The Bionic's home screen can be shuttled off to a small window, or blown up to occupy the entire display of the laptop dock.
Every function you choose to perform is opened in a window. Want to open the music player? It opens a window. Want to make a phone call? It opens a window. In fact, you can open every single application at once and simply have them arranged in a huge row of browser-like tabs. Everything (yes, everything, including taking pictures) that you can do with just the phone, you can also do when the Bionic is in the laptop dock.
The problem is that apps are slow to perform. They take time to open and everything is flaky. It is way too easy to accidentally brush something and open two apps that you didn't want to. I could do everything on the phone by itself much, much faster than with the laptop dock. The only real benefit I see here is having access to a large screen and a real keyboard.
But Verizon and Motorola are offering a much cheaper way to get these same features. Buy the Droid Bionic Adapter for Webtop Application accessory instead ot the laptop dock. It costs $30 (as opposed to the $300 dock), and still lets you connect the Bionic to the monitor and keyboard of your choice.