It has been a while since we saw the latest incarnation of the ROKR series. Well, fans of the series wait no more. The latest in Motorola's ROKR Series, the ROKR E8 is here. We check out whether it was worth the wait.
The Motorola E8 looks pretty good in its black metallic/glassy case. Unfortunately, it is this exterior that makes it a fingerprint magnet, ensuring that you need a cloth on standby at all times to clean the screen. The E8 weighs in nicely at 100 grams and is relatively slim.
Two touted highlights of the phone, however, are the ModeShift technology and FastScroll touch wheel. ModeShift technology 'transforms' the keys according to the function being used. Playing music? The keypad's numbers fade away and in it's place, the Play, Rewind and Forward button take over. Camera mode? Zoom, Record and Playback buttons helpfully appear. As pretty as it looks, the device does freeze for a few seconds in its 'transformation' of the keypad from camera to music mode and vice versa.
Since the phone lacks a traditional keypad, the haptic technology that Motorola has incorporated into the phone lends an intuitive touch to the interface. The FastScroll touch wheel is a ¾ circle that allows users to scroll through their music playlists, messages and browsers with ease. We had some gripes with the sensitivity of the wheel however, as well as the small select button in the middle of the wheel, which required some degree of precision to use.
Labeling itself as the phone "For You and Music You", it does live up to its billing. Music playback really shines through with this phone. With 2GB internal memory and an option to add 4GB more with a micro SD card, there is sufficient space for the average music listener. The phone utilizes a 3.5mm jack that allows your own earphones to be plugged into it. Discerning listeners will not be disappointed; the E8's playback is more then adequate. And it goes the distance as well, lasting up to a satisfying 13 hours using the supplied earphones.
Loading music in the phone was also a breeze. Using Windows Media Player, transfer of music was painless and speedy with the Micro USB cable provided. Nonetheless, considering the caliber of the E8's positioning as a music phone, we still found ourselves bemoaning the absence of a 3G cellular network. In addition, the general Linux/Java OS does tend to display a slight lag at times, which can be slightly frustrating during message scrolling or alternating between its various functions.
Considering its flawed beauty, the ROKR E8 is priced just nicely at S$498 if one is looking for a device that delivers long-lasting music playback coupled with basic cellular functionalities. Alternatively, there are other options such as the Sony Ericsson Walkman phone series, though the pricing that might not be as competitive as presented with the E8.