Motorola ROKR E1 review: iTunes inside

Jiří Kuruc, 07 October 2005. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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Tags: Motorola

Let the music play

Motorola ROKR E1 has been made to serve as a full-function music player. To do so, however, it has had to use the know-how of Apple, and more precisely the service support of iTunes Music Store. The common price of a music file is € 0.99. It is you, the customer, who should decide, whether it is or it is not a lot.


Internet iTunes Music Store

In reality, Motorola ROKR has two music file players. One of them is the already mentioned iTunes. The other one is a standard music player, which was to be found in the E398 model. The former requires that the iTunes program be installed on a PC. If you find its installation unnecessary, you can skip this step. The phone supports the Mass Storage mode, so its card's file structure appears among other drives once the phone has been connected. You can then search the card and use the file manager options. Compared to iTunes however, the old player has a high number of disadvantages: i.e. after it has played the first music file it stops instead of continuing playing the rest of the files.

iTunes in the computer

Installing iTunes on your PC seems to be a much more convenient solution. When you upload music into ROKR, music files get compressed into AAC format with a data rate of 128 kb/s. As a result, recorded files occupy approximately 1 MB per minute. This lets you save about 30 songs on a card with capacity of 128 MB. To my understanding, the compression does not appear to have influence on the quality of the music files. I need to stress, however, that I am writing this from the position of a common user, not as an expensively equipped audiophile. As matter of fact, I do not find any difference between the sound of ROKR's player (using the attached earphones) and the sound performed by my MP3 player on 192 kb/s.

The structure of iTunes application is quite simple, so you will get into it quickly. Don't worry - iTunes does not limit you to downloading music from iTunes Music Store only. You can direct it to you personal music-file archive and continue working. You may run into one serious problem though: untitled files as well as files, whose ID3Tag has not been filled in, appear as numbers only, so you will not know where to sort them. In other words, iTunes does not work with folders. It mixes up all files and then sorts them by file name, artist, title etc.


A list of the music pieces saved in ROKR

Once you have connected ROKR E1 to you computer, the phone appears in the iTunes program's left menu. Then you need to simply enter the music library, select the files you like and paste them into ROKR's folder. This way you start an automatic conversion from the PC into the mobile phone. Files are uploaded in a relatively low speed - about 170 KB/s. Curiously, reading is even slower - 110 KB/s. An overview of the phone's memory capacity is constantly displayed in the bottom part of the program. As far as I know, the most serious con of iTunes appears to be its slowness as well as the fact that it eats up a lot of memory space. Be prepared therefore for significant delays when you apply certain options.

iTunes in the phone

Using iTunes in the mobile phone alone is a simple task, as well. Files can be played by artist's name, album's title or music style. While listening to music, you can make any other common phone operation. Yet, keep in mind the delays, especially when you write SMS. What a pity that ROKR does not have a radio of at least basic characteristics. I am sure that many users would have appreciated it.


iTunes environment in the mobile phone


Sorting music by artist's name, playing


Player setup, capacity details

Well, we have already loaded the music we wanted and there is nothing to stop us from enjoying it now. It can be listened to through the built-in stereo speakers, mounted on phone's sideways. Believe me or not, I tell you that no matter how small those speakers are, the sound they give out is superb. Pay attention to the earphones attached to the Motorola ROKR E1, for I am sure that they will provide you with even greater pleasure than the speakers. They can be used as a light handsfree set, as well. The earphones are connected through a 2.5 mm jack, so any other set of earphones, different from the one attached, will require reduction. Still, I think that most of you will do perfect with the original earphones. Even though their design is somewhat extravagant, their color suits the outlook of the phone.

Click to zoom. Click to zoom. Click to zoom. Click to zoom.
Several views at Motorola ROKR

The quality of the music depends on two main factors: the quality of the player and, of course, the quality of the earphones. In the case of Motorola ROKR, both factors work in perfect harmony. The earphones offer pleasant sound with good dynamics, steady base elements and reasonable middle heights. Quiet pieces of classical music, for example, are not disturbed by a single noise. Performance quality gets somewhat worse when the accumulator starts to get low. At the moment, when the phone alerts you that energy levels are low, music stops playing for a second or so.

Battery life is a crucial factor

Motorola ROKR uses Li-Ion accumulator with a capacity of 860 mAh. If the phone is used for common operations only, excluding listening to music, its accumulator endures about 2 to 3 days in a stand-by mode. However, if you listen to music during the day, at night you will have to charge it. ROKR E1 is able to constantly play music for about 12 hours - a really praiseworthy performance.

Will ROKR be a successful phone?

As a whole, iTunes application is a serious and important innovation in Motorola ROKR E1, especially due to the method, in which music files are compressed and managed. ROKR has occupied an especially advantageous position among mobile phones with built-in music player thanks to its excellent music performance and it top-class earphones. The lack of a radio is the only detail to regret.

As for ROKR's price, it is estimated at € 230, a bit higher than the one of the current Motorola E398 model, which is € 200.


With the help of Maciek Wilkos.

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