iTunes phone hands-on!

While other journalists were agape at the sight of jock-rock-techno-meister Mylo at a Motorola event yesterday, we were squirrelled in a corner giving the Rokr E1 a good going over. Our verdict might half-knock one of your socks off

The Rokr E1 is OK. It’s a Motorola candy bar phone that also plays music from your iTunes catalogue. But there are questions that need answering, and these are them:

1) Why is it so big?

Stereo speakers. They’re pretty loud – we could make out what tune it was playing even over the sound of Mylo getting all finger-twiddly at the Scala. There’s wee lights, too, that flash along with the beat. Motorola spokepeeps agreed that it would have been cool to have the iTunes functionality in something like the Slvr, but the speakers were too important.

2) How’s the sound quality?

Good. As good as the Shuffle in fact, but so far you can only use the bundled headphones. We wept for the lack of an adaptor – such as comes with the Walkman phone – that lets you use your own headphones. Moto told us to stop being so pathetic but, while getting us a hankie, we saw him muttering to someone about it.

3) 100 songs?

Yep. A 100-song cap, regardless of what memory you have. Apple aren’t fools – ‘Have you considered a iPod Nano, sir?’ And it’s USB 1.1, so more than a 100 songs would have you tearing your eyes out. And, no, it can’t download songs over-the-air. ‘That’s a good idea!’, said Motorola brightly, before grinning off to someone asking easier questions.

4) Easy to use?

Not especially. A dedicated key takes you a familiar iPod-style menu, but controls are a rather non-Apple mix of cursor and softkey action.

5) Is it expensive?

Nope – free with a £35/month O2 deal, orders being taken by [Motorola’s chosen retail partner] Carphone Warehouse around about now.

6) Can you sum this up?

Yes. The Rokr E1 is alright. The E2 (or whatever they call it) will probably be better, but if you want a music-playing phone, and you use iTunes, and you don’t have a Shuffle, and you don’t mind their headphones, then give it an audition.

Check out our supertest in the December issue for the official, star-rated verdict.