Thoughts at the latest Motorola press event: Bread, circuses and Razr smartphones

Another day, another product announcement -- or two.

This morning, it was Nokia's Windows Phone 8 Lumia 920 and 820 smartphones. This afternoon, it was the latest Motorola Droid Razr smartphones. I watched the first presentation via webcast; but I was present for the second. And as I sat waiting for the Motorola press event to start, photos of two of the phones being introduced -- the Razr HD and the Razr M -- were already being leaked out and shared around the Twitterverse. It is part of the madness that makes up the introduction of new technologies today.

While Apple is without doubt the master player in this contest, pushing expectations to the point where whole countries could disappear and none of the tech cognizanti would notice, other companies are doing their best to draw attention. Google's recent presentation of its upcoming Google Glass, with stunt parachutists, climbers and cyclists, was pretty attention-drawing. Compared to that, Motorola's rock band (The Kin, an excellent band) was practically a crayon drawing.

However, that's all right by me. Perhaps it's the number of years I've been in this business, but I'm getting really tired of the sturm und drang that seems to be required at tech product intros these days. While I appreciated the good music, I -- and most of my colleagues -- wanted simply to find out about the new products and, if possible, try them out. All the rest is often too-thick icing on what can be a very thin cake.

This time, however, the products may be worth a bit of trumpeting.

Droid Razr HD

The Droid Razr HD offers a 4.7-in. display (which they've managed to keep in a sleek 5.19 x 2.67-in. case), a dual core processor, 16GB of memory and a 2500 mAh battery -- according to Motorola, talk time is 16 hours, which, if that's true, ain't bad. It will ship with Chrome as the standard browser -- not a big deal, since it's easy enough to download the Chrome app onto any Android device, but an indication of Motorola's new marriage with Google.

The Droid Razr Maxx is the HD taken a step further. It will come with 32GB of memory and will offer, according to Motorola, up to 21 hours of talk time, with the same dual core processor and 4.7-in. display.

And, on the lower end, there's the Droid Razr M, with a 4.3-in. HD display, the same dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera, 8GB of storage and a 2000mAh battery. The Razr M is the only one of the three that has an announced price ($99) and a ship date (next week). The other two will be available, Motorola reps said, sometime before the holidays.

I played with the Razr HD and Maxx for a few minutes after the presentation, and was impressed with both the feel -- they both have Kevlar backs, which is good to the touch and leaves you reasonably confident that you're not going to drop the device -- and great-looking displays.

The devices had Android Ice Cream Sandwich on them, and, perhaps surprisingly for a device by the company now owned by Google, came with a few extras rather than pure Android. Additions included informational circles on the home screen that offer data such as the weather and your remaining battery life; a Quick Settings screen that is supposed to make it easier to change various basic settings; and a single home screen (more can can be added if you want).

It looks like a good line-up, and if the previous Razr is anything to go by, it could do really well. We will be offering hands-on reviews of the new Razr HD and/or the Maxx as soon as possible, and JR Raphael will be contributing his impressions of the Razr M within the next few days.

And any excitement generated by these devices -- at least, as far as our hands-on reviews are concerned -- will be solely due to their technology, design and usefulness. Not by how elaborate a presentation the vendor was able to muster. Bread and circuses are fun, but finally, it is the end product itself that counts.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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