Motorola like its accessories and we got the chance to play with some of them at the European launch of the new Motorola RAZR on Wednesday. One of the accessories that caught our eye was the new Smart Controller, which is a clever Bluetooth remote for your docked phone.
There will be a range of docks, including a Lapdock, on offer for the RAZR as there were with the Motorola Atrix, which we reviewed earlier in 2011. Because the connections are all on one end of the RAZR it doesn't slot down into a dock quite as neatly as the Atrix did, but it works well enough.
Hooked up to a large TV for a demo at the launch event, the connected RAZR was in mirror mode, so displayed exactly the same image on the TV as on the phone. Before we get to the Smart Controller, it has to be said that the on-screen quality was excellent.
The Smart Controller connects via Bluetooth and gives you a light curved controller. The top section is a touch panel, with a line of controls dividing the Controller across the middle. Those controls are the same as you get on the phone beneath the screen: menu, home, back and search.
The touch panel supports gestures, so you can use pinch zooming, with two finger swipes letting you move through home pages.
General navigation around a screen is done with a single finger, which brings up a mouse-style pointer on the display that you can move around. The touch pad is also clickable, so if you hover over what you want to open and click then everything works fine.
In action, however, it takes a little getting used to. We found that the surface wasn't quite smooth enough so zooming was a little jerky. Swiping worked well enough, but to move the pointer around the screen does need a fair amount of finger repositioning, something you'd probably get used to with regular use. It was pointed out that this was a pre-production sample, so the experience might be slightly smoother with the final device.
The Smart Controller is designed to be your sofa companion so you can navigate your docked device without moving. It doesn't offer you any media controls however, these have to be accessed through the regular controls onscreen in the phone's media players.
But the final, genius, feature of the Smart Controller is that it is also a Bluetooth handset that will take calls. On the underside is a button which lets you answer calls should one come in whilst your phone is docked. That saves you from jumping up and grabbing your phone - you just take the call on the Smart Controller.
No word on pricing just yet - we're hoping that some of these accessories will be free with a pre-order deal as they were with the Atrix when it launched on Orange.