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2/14/2012
11:55 AM
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Motorola DROID 4: An Office In Your Pocket?

Motorola's new Droid 4 is big and doesn't ship with Android 4.0, but it does fit both 4G LTE and some office tools in your pocket.

For relatively undemanding editing of documents on the phone, the Droid 4 comes with QuickOffice. It's something of a crapshoot as to which files you'll be able to open with QuickOffice, but I was able to at least read and do rudimentary editing on documents that didn't have complex formatting such as fancy text styles. Unfortunately, OpenOffice users in particular are out of luck: QuickOffice cannot open the .ODF file format. I'm used to a full-size desktop in all respects, so for me QuickOffice was only useful for perusing files rather than creating them.

Those with ambitions to get real work done can connect the Droid 4 to a special dock, which hooks up to an HDMI display. From there you can use Motorola's webtop technology to run a full-screen instance of Firefox, remote-connect to a Citrix-enabled system, or run a number of other webtop-enabled apps.

I recommend adding a full Bluetooth keyboard as well, although this is the sort of thing that works best when the dock, display, and keyboard are not things you need to bring everywhere with you. A big display is probably best when using Citrix Receiver to remotely access your desktop, or with the included copy of GoToMeeting, for remote conferencing--although you can get away with small-screen videoconferencing on the latter a la Google+ Hangouts.

Droid 4 Nighttime Battery Saver

Battery life on any smart phone tends to be a losing proposition. Motorola has tried to do something about this on the software side via its Smart Actions system (which actually debuted in the Droid RAZR). Rules can be set to trigger specific actions based on locations, times, user activities, and other parameters.

For example, you can set the phone to automatically toggle off all data to save battery power at night, when you're sleeping. This tweaking paid off, and helped extend the battery life into the day-and-a-half range. Your own results will vary depending on how aggressively you use the phone, of course.

No phone or tablet yet exists that's a straight-up replacement for a desktop system, and I doubt one will come along for a good while. But the Droid 4 is an ambitious attempt to create an adjunct desktop-in-the-pocket, one whose full potential we might not see unleashed until its ICS update comes along.

Name: Motorola Droid 4

The impressive hardware of the Droid 4 comes at the cost of the unit's size and weight, although its battery life can be managed using Motorola's special software. Whether you can use it to take your productivity on the road depends heavily on what your own work habits are, although it needs to have ICS rolled out to it sooner rather than later.
Price: $549.99, or $199.99 with two-year Verizon contract
Pro:
  • Full QWERTY keyboard.
  • Can dock for running full screen on an HDMI display.
  • Battery life can be extended using rules.
Con:
  • Non-removable battery.
  • OS is not Android 4.0.
  • Client software for the PC is clunky.

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