If asked about mobile communication and digital music, one of the top names that would spring most readily to mind is the ROKR from Motorola. The original ROKR E1 may be remembered for its forward leap in integrating a credible jukebox system and interface in the form of a scaled-down iTunes, but beyond all the marketing blitz, it never really stood its ground as a music oriented mobile phone. With us today is the new ROKR E2 or figuratively Motorola’s second take on getting the ROKR right.
Like the ROKR E1, the ROKR E2 strives to empower users with quality and intuitive music playback and control in addition to modern mobile communication convenience. The new black and orange design now gives the new ROKR E2 a compelling identity of music and fun while giving it a pleasing guise at the same time. The power on/off, music player button, keypad, and five-way directional buttons are all located up front, all in the name of user ergonomic. One of three speakers is situated right above the TFT screen while shortcut keys (like play, rewind, fast forward, and volume) are placed at the side for the E2’s music player function.
The right side of the phones hosts a mini-USB jack, an SD Card slot for memory expansion, keypad lock and a voice command button. Further to that, two speakers and a 3.5mm headphone jack can be found at the crown of the E2. Of course, being a modern mobile phone, the back of the E2 is equipped with a 1.3-megapixel CMOS camera with built-in flash, which is one notch higher than the VGA unit in the E1. Finally, the ROKR E2 boasts Bluetooth in addition to a USB 2.0 interface, giving it both wired and wireless data connectivity and transfer capability.
Being an improved model, the new E2 brings with it several changes such as a 3.5mm headphone jack, an SD slot for memory of up to 2GB, built-in FM radio with 30 presets and a sharper QVGA screen. Though these improvements do make the E2 a notably better product than its predecessor, what we really liked about the E2 was not an addition but rather an exclusion from its selling points instead. The notoriously slow iTunes that plagued the ROKR E1 has been ousted in favor of a simplified music player from Motorola. This, in our opinion, is the best improvement over the ROKR E1.
Like the ROKR E1 however, the ROKR E2 will not disappoint where sound quality is concerned. Playback volume is sufficiently loud for tracks to be heard during commute and with the aid of equalizers (presets and one adjustable), the E2 could even be mistaken for a standalone MP3 player. However, those who want a more pronounced growl to dance music or acoustics will have to use a better set of earphones. Admittedly, we found the ROKR E2 a joy to use. You can transfer music files to and fro the ROKR E2 easily with no DRM hurdle to jump and while the media interface is as easy to use as it gets, we couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed that the whole music experience was somewhat dull. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything spectacularly exciting about the ROKR E2 that her competitors are not offering already, if not better. The battery life of the ROKR E2 was average as well, lasting about two days with moderate use.
With a fashionable, black and orange façade, a beautiful and uncomplicated GUI, and reasonably good sound, the Motorola ROKR E2 is clearly a better product than its predecessor; one that we are sure will appeal to those who just want a simple music player and a mobile phone in one handy form factor.