HOME / PRINT
Motorola ROKR E8
I've been waiting for the ROKR E8 ever since I first saw it at the Motorola Developers' Conference in Bangalore a couple of months ago, and for good reason! Clearly Motorola’s got an eye for good design, and also a strong research team in place to ensure the best quality. That said, it's time the company concentrated on better integrated services. The technology used in its phones is rather staid, for one, and the GUI further undermines the value of the product.
The E8 offers some snazzy new features, but their execution sadly leaves much to be desired. Let’s start with the form factor.
Design and Build
The build quality is, in a word, amazing. There’s the much appreciated shiny glass finish on the front, and a slip-free rubberized back. At 115 x 53 x 10.6 mm, it’s not the slimmest phone around, and the 3.5mm jack found right on top is perhaps to blame. However, the phone looks proportionate, and the 3.5mm jack allows you to connect your device to pretty much any speaker system.
The phone-lock slider on the right makes a lot of sense. No more trial-and-error; just one flick and the phone is locked. The USB/charging slot is placed right above the lock slider. The volume keys are on the left, and for good measure there’s a dedicated MusicID button below.
When the screen is off, you will notice tiny dot-sized ridges all over the face of the phone. Since the face is flat, there are no visible buttons; they all light up only when in use. This is where the morphing technology comes into play – it lights up only those keys needed for a particular application. Nice!
The Fastscroll wheel is another fancy addition, along with the Modeshift four-way navigation pad. However, with such a snazzy design I wonder what sense a small two-inch screen makes. It really pulls the rug under Motorola’s feet, forcing the E8 to land flat on its face.
Features and Performance
The E8 is a quadband GPRS/EDGE device with no 3G or Wi-Fi. The USP of the phone, it seems to me, happens to be the music player. As I mentioned earlier, the inclusion of a 3.5-mm jack is a good move, and the fact that you can purchase portable stereo speakers is another plus. But more on that later.
For easy access the Modeshift button comes in handy. But the same can’t be said about the Fastscroll wheel. Unlike the iPod wheel navigation system, this one is quite non-responsive. Ideally, you would like the touch to register as soon as you lay your finger on it. This is not the case! It takes a second to register touches, which means you can’t be really fast with the scroll.
The buttons deploy haptics technology, which indicates every keypress with a tiny vibration. The problem with the keypad is that it doesn’t leave you with a feeling of having registered a click satisfactorily. Initially, I thought it’s just me. But I double-checked using two different pieces, with a whole lot of people from the office, and the verdict stays.
You have give it to Motorola for thinking of a simple technology called Morphing, which lights up only those keys that need to be used while using the music player, camera etc. No more need to squint at the icons on the buttons.
Messaging will take getting used to. But the dictionary system the phone uses is simply fantastic. It learns fast and does the job well, but Nokians are advised to unlearn everything they know. What isn’t fun is that the sluggish performance seeps into messaging as well.
The screen proved most disappointing. The two-inch QVGA TFT affair with a resolution of 240 x 320 and 262K colors fails to impress. Perhaps Fastscroll is to blame for the tiny screen.
Music and Camera
The E8 comes with 2GB of internal memory, with an option to expand it using a microSD card. Natively the phone supports plenty of formats, including MIDI, MP3, AAC, AAC+, Enhanced AAC+, WMA, WAV, AMR-NB, and even Real Audio (RA) v10.
Considering the phone’s been really pimped up for music, it's surprising that the music player isn’t up to the mark. I could have used a better set of earphones to begin with. However, even with my Sennheiser HD415, the sound reproduction wasn’t very accurate. It’s very trebly, and while that's not too bad, the highs are unfortunately distorted.
The foldable stereo speakers that require 4 AAA batteries to run are a good thing to have. The sound is pretty wholesome, and oddly complements the not-so-great music player.
The camera is a 2MP job and there’s nothing special about it either. The pictures were quite dull, and the small screen makes viewing in the phone itself quite tiresome.
Battery and Specs
Motorola ROKR E8
|GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900|
|115 x 53 x 10.6mm, 100g|
| 2-inch QVGA TFT, 240x320 with 262K colors |
|2GB internal, microSD (TransFlash)|
USB, Bluetooth, GPRS, EDGE
Up to 300 hrs standby, 5 hrs talktime (according to product manual)
Approx. Rs 12,400