Stylish music phone with a morphing keypad
Sporting a touch-sensitive, 'morphing' keypad and a sleek, glossy design, Motorola's MOTOROKR E8 is a far cry away from the first ROKR handset, the boring and ultimately disappointing ROKR E1. This stylish music-orientated handset impresses with its wow factor alone, and although its 'morphing' controls aren't implemented perfectly, there are plenty of positives.
- Morphing keypad, 3.5mm headphone jack, 2GB internal memory with microSD slot, stylish design, keypad lock switch
- No 3G/HSDPA, interface a little slow at times, can’t adjust scrolling sensitivity, mediocre camera
The wow factor of the MOTOROKR E8's morphing keypad alone is enough to turn heads. Although the lack of 3G may be a deal-breaker for some, this remains a stylish and commendable music handset.
Price$ 450.00 (AUD)
There is no denying the E8's attractiveness. It features a gloss black finish on the front, a dark silver matte finish on the rear and is topped off by a classy dark chrome edging. Although it's not the most compact handset we've seen, the new ROKR is thin enough to go largely unnoticed in the pocket of your jeans.
The outstanding feature of the E8 is the touch-sensitive keypad, which doesn't have any conventional buttons. Motorola has introduced technology it dubs ModeShift, designed to make it easier to switch and access different functions of the handset. For example, pressing the music button replaces the keypad with music controls, while switching to camera mode reveals camera functions like zoom and video. When the phone is not active, the controls are invisible. Although it's a pretty cool feature and does make the handset quite easy to use, the buttons require a firm press to activate and are completely flat (with the exception of a small bump on each key). Consequently, we found text messaging a hit and miss affair, though the vibrating tactile feedback when each button is pressed is a welcome addition.
In addition to a five-way navigational pad, the MOTOROKR E8 also has a FastScroll navigational wheel, used for scrolling through music, contacts, a calendar and multimedia tasks. The wheel is strangely only three-quarters of a circle, unlike most scroll wheels that allow full thumb movement. Responsiveness and feedback is excellent, though it's sometimes too quick for your finger — you'll find yourself repeatedly scrolling too far when browsing the menu and there isn't a way to adjust the scrolling sensitivity.
The MOTOROKR sports a new user interface as well. Although it looks quite pleasing on the eye, its responsiveness is a slight issue: scrolling through menu items and lists results in a slight delay. However, it is vastly improved compared to previous models in this regard. The design of the interface is an improvement over usual Motorola models — menu items are lined up horizontally at the bottom of the main menu and the animated icons fly past as you scroll through them. The 2in QVGA display is short and wide, and provides reasonable graphics.
As it's a music handset, the E8 comes standard with 2GB of internal memory and also has a microSD card slot that allows cards up to 4GB to be used. The music player itself works quite well and 3D stereo, bass boost, repeat and shuffle modes in addition to a preset equaliser are nice inclusions. A feature often overlooked on mobile phones — a standard 3.5mm headphone jack — is a welcome addition here, as is the keypad lock switch on the right side of the handset.
The ROKR E8 is a tri-band GSM handset with GPRS and EDGE connectivity but it lacks 3G or HSDPA connectivity #8212; a shame considering Motorola provides access to download current ARIA Chart music via an over-the-air connection. Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP, an FM radio and a 2-megapixel camera with 8x digital zoom are other features. The camera is very basic, lacking flash, autofocus and the ability to adjust white balance.
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