Motorola’s HD Station is one of the more intriguing device accessories that’s come across my desk of late. Tapping into multiple Motorola devices’ HDMI + microUSB setups, the HD Station allows users to take their mobile phone or tablet to the big screen. Unlike other mobile accessories, the HD Station is a one size fits all dock for a plethora of Motorola phones and tablets including the DROID RAZR (and MAXX), DROID BIONIC, DROID XYBOARD, and DROID 3/4.
The HD Station is a resizable dock that allows users to connect Motorola tablets and phones with the proper HDMI and microUSB ports setup. When connected, phones and tablets will allow you to use device mirroring, Webtop mode, and a plethora of other applications. On the DROID XYBOARD, docking the tablet will allow you to select an installed application and mirror it onto an HD screen. The Motorola DROID RAZR, on the other hand, comes with Webtop mode enabled. You can plug the RAZR in to the HD Station and use your larger monitor as a full-fledged computer with Android 4.0.
Motorola’s designed the HD Station for maximum device compatibility with its ports as slideable objects in the center. Behind the ports, a plastic spring-loaded base allows you to properly dock a number of devices despite their size differences.
The original Motorola Webtop was a separate Linux distro launched apart from Android. Now, with Android 4.0′s allowance of a multi-screen interface, Motorola’s chosen to move the Webtop to a tablet/desktop Android user interface. That means, all of your favorite Android applications and functions are available in Webtop mode. Thankfully, with Firefox and Chrome for Android, full-fledged browsers are now a reality on Android. They work as expected in HDMI mode, offering a speedy tabbed user interface for maximum usability.
Unfortunately, the Webtop is plagued by slow speeds on the DROID RAZR. We can most likely attribute those speeds to the relatively underpowered Texas Instruments OMAP processor inside of the device, which makes it difficult to push graphics to a 1080p HD display. There is noticeable lag around every corner of the Webtop experience, extending to applications, settings menus, and the home screens setup.
In addition, we were peeved by the lack of a desktop view for browsing in Chrome or the default browser. Both browsers automatically zoomed in on websites, distorting their original design. That kind of zooming may be necessary on a phone or tablet display. But, if we’re trying to recreate the desktop experience, it’d be nicer to not zoom automatically.
We have no doubt that Motorola will continue to develop the Webtop technology with future devices— ones that include better graphics processors. Until those devices hit the market, it may not be worth $99 to purchase the HD Station for Webtop mode.
On the XYBOARD, you can choose from a variety of applications to display on the screen connected to the HD Station. I tried Netflix for some television. The display worked perfectly, although there was noticeable upsampling which made the quality lackluster. Still, it’s a cheap solution that arguably bests the multimedia box solution.
Along with our HD Station, we reviewed the Motorola Smart Controller. It’s specifically designed to keep you mobile while your phone is docked. For example, I’m watching Netflix through my docked DROID RAZR on my television. *Ring, ring, ring* I receive a call from my friend. Instead of undocking my device to pick up the call, I simply whip out the Smart Controller and use it as a Bluetooth-enabled phone.
The Smart Controller’s phone capabilities aren’t its only use. On the other side, the Smart Controller acts as a Bluetooth trackpad with multi-touch gestures. And, it syncs the four standard Android buttons with your device as well. You can control your Webtop or docked device from dozens of feet away.
It works as expected, although I would add that the small trackpad makes navigation alarmingly difficult on the Webtop. It’s not as easy as a standard Bluetooth mouse setup. The Smart Controller works with any Android device that’s got Android 3.2+. It’ll even take voice commands to eliminate the need for your keyboard.
Motorola’s HD Station is an excellent little dock for all of your Motorola devices. There are clearly areas where the HD Station’s docked devices can be improved. Better hardware will enable smoother graphics and sharper resolutions. Still, the HD Station is almost certainly the best dock you can purchase for your Motorola smartphone or tablet.