Hands On Video with T-Mobile’s $199 Motorola ROKR E8

Motorola just announced that the quad-band ROKR E8 will be available to T-Mobile customers on July 7th for $199. We’ve had previews and hands-on time with the beautifully crafted ROKR E8 a few times now, but there’s nothing like finally getting a review unit in and running it through its paces unsupervised. The ROKR E8 will likely be most attractive to teens and young twenty-somethings on T-Mobile looking for a music phone that can also bring basic e-mail and Web functionality to their fingertips while remaining simple.  Its smooth glass top and midnight blue body, which features a soft rubbery back cover, will certainly turn heads. At various spots inside the UI and on the phone itself, there are subtle red accents that make for a beautiful package all around. While the phone certainly feels sturdy, it’s still going to be hobbled by T-Mobile’s slow EDGE network. Its big competitor is going to be the $49.99 priced Nokia 5310 XpressMusic, which is also offered by T-Mobile. Where the 4.5 x 2.0 x 0.4-inch sized ROKR E8 is more similar in size to a 4.2 x 2.4 x 0.4-inch sized iPod Classic, the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is more on par with the first generation iPod Nano’s measurements. Virtual Buttons Offer “Real” Tactile Feedback First impressions are good: the phone’s area haptics create an intense sensation that buttons for each key really exist when they don’t. It’s also quite fun to play with the ModeShift technology, which reveals specific keys for the phone, camera, and music player. That means, when you’re using the phone, the alphanumeric keyboard is in view. But if you switch to the mp3 player, the keypad vanishes and only multimedia controls remain. Likewise for the camera, zoom in/out, album view, and the video cameras are revealed when it’s launched. iPod Replacement? We’ve spoken with Motorola quite a few times now about the phone and the ROKR E8 label makes it no secret that music buffs are the target audience. I’ll be analyzing just how well it can accomplish the task of doubling as an mp3 player, but its FastScroll technology for flying through songs quickly is already impressive. Is it good enough to replace your iPod as both an exercise and entertainment tool? While it comes with 2GB of storage and a 1GB microSD card in the box, it’s limited to a maximum capcity of 6GB (if you add a 4GB microSD card) and that’s already a barrier for those used to using high capacity iPods. E-mail and IM The ROKR E8 also offers support for AOL AIM and Yahoo! E-mail, as well as other accounts that you can configure on your own. We setup Gmail in about a minute. It comes packaged with AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger IM clients for texting friends on the go. Other entertainment features include support for video recording and playback, as well as an FM radio which requires a headset to act as the antenna. My testing over the next few days is going to focus on the comparison between both the Nokia XpressMusic and the Motorola ROKR E8, and that’s primarily because it will be important to discover whether or not the E8 is worth the $150 premium over the XpressMusic, which also offers easy music controls, a 2-MP camera, and great music quality, but a paltry 30MB of storage out of the box. Stay tuned for the full review. [flv:/flvs/rokr.flv 480 360]

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