Motorola ROKR E1 review
With rumours of an ‘iPod phone’ doing the rounds as long as we can remember, it was no surprise when the ROKR finally appeared. But the underwhelming response can’t be blamed entirely on hype fatigue.
The plain fact is, this isn’t anywhere near what we’d expect to see from the combined efforts of two of the most innovative companies around. Apple’s only hand in the design seems to have been the pearlesque casing – along with the iTunes software – while Motorola’s ground-breaking phones seem to have been entirely forgotten in light of this distinctly standard-looking handset.
Along with the general discontent over the design, the 100-track cap on music storage was met with derision, while complaints have already been voiced over the time it takes to transfer tracks onto the 512MB TransFlash memory card. Using the Shuffle Autofill option in iTunes to put 282MB of tracks onto the ROKR, we were left waiting nearly 45 minutes until music was ready to play.
While transferring tracks was something of a chore, using the iTunes software is very easy, with the familiar side-scrolling menu system fitting in well with the joystick controls. Unlike many phones with MP3 playback, the volume gets up to a decent level, and sound quality is pleasingly warm with a good level of bass – even using the included white headset.
Keep the player running in the background and the quick-launch homescreen converts to music controls, allowing you to pause and change tracks without returning to the app. If you’re used to Motorola’s often nonsensical menu system, you’ll know what to expect when it comes to using the ROKR as a normal phone, but despite the usual quibbles (you can’t flick between camera and video mode once you’re in the camera app, for example) the phone works well enough.
Once you’ve taken the basic VGA camera into account, what you’re left with is a fairly average, rather heavy phone that, for all its musicality, can’t help but disappoint. If you’re looking for an upgrade, the ROKR is a decent enough handset with the added benefit of good music playback, but if you’re looking for an iPod phone you’ll be sorely disappointed.