posted by Eugenia Loli on Thu 31st Aug 2006 01:45 UTC

"The Software"
For all means and purposes the ROKR-E2 feels and behaves like any other modern feature phone. Its UI and icon style resembles the current non-Linux Motorola phones, but the fonts are way better (not as good as in PocketPC or Symbian, but better than in the normal Motorola phones). You get a bunch of profiles to choose from (or edit them), you get editable theme support (although there is no software to create new graphical themes at this time) and a choice of some really nice backgrounds for your home-screen. Mp3 ringtones are supported too. The E2 loads in about 12 seconds, which is faster than the Motorola Linux-based EZX phones.

On the main screen you get the service bar, carrier info, date and time, and an icon representation of the 4 joystick shortcuts. The "Options" softkey menu includes such options as "Take Picture", "Create Message", "Change Profile" and "Customize Home" (customizes the front screen). When you have a menu open on the left softkey, the right softkey automatically becomes the "Close" button of that menu. If you press the left softkey it is the same as you pressed the joystick button (it carries out the currently selected menu action). The right softkey in the Home screen gets you to the Main Menu. It is a 3x3 icon grid with the following options in the firmware version R564_G_12.02.32P that the phone came with: Contacts, Recent Calls, Messages, Office Tools, Games, Web Access, Multimedia, File Manager and Settings. Please note that you can rename and add new folders or applications in that Main Menu. All java apps are automatically placed in the root Main Menu, and I didn't like that. I renamed "Games" to "Applications" and moved Opera Mini and the rest of my Java apps in there, just to keep the main menu UI clean.

The Contacts application is pretty nice, it allows to create message and email lists, filter by categories, allows you to select multiple contacts at the same time to send via Bluetooth or remove, synchronize via SyncML, add Notes and assign pictures to your contacts and more. One small UI pet peeve I have is that the little green arrow on the right next to the contacts could be placed a few pixels below and so leaving space to render the full name of the contact, instead of adding the elipsis character all the time.

The Recent Calls application shows all calls by default but it can specifically filter for dialed, answered or missed calls. You can also save to contacts a specific number that appears in that list. Nothing fancy here, although it would have been nice if the screen is modified to be like Sony Ericsson's where you don't have to go through a long menu to view only specific calls (e.g. if you only want to see the calls you missed).

The Messages application has support for SMS, MMS, POP3/IMAP email and Voicemail. There are some nice MMS templates included with the system, but there is no system-wide volume setting so each time you load one of these loud .mid files on an MMS template you have to change its volume... Nevertheless, the email client worked with my POP3 account and Gmail.

The ROKR-E2 comes with 3 Chinese games with it (untranslated), one of them crashed the phone while loading. Other than this one-time incident, I have not experienced any stability issues with the phone. The games are easy to use and play, even if you can't read Chinese. There were no speed issues running these games.

Opera Mobile 8.50 is included with the E2. First thing I did was to make the font size "small" so it fits more text in the QVGA screen. Opera worked fast, scrolled fast, never ran out of memory (although I did not try to load huge pages like cnn.com or digg.com) and rendered everything as expected. I only have a single beef with the recent versions of Opera Mobile, apparently when "Fit to Screen" is enabled, it doesn't always resize images to fit and so some horizontal scrollbars might occur occasionally. Other than that, Opera Mobile is da bomb!

However, the phone has one more "bomb". Its File Manager. I absolutely love the power you get from this seemingly simple file manager. It allows you to easily select multiple files and send them to email or bluetooth, or delete them, or apply a specific format to specific actions (e.g. an image as a background image), sort your files and folders, create new folders and view your contents with 4 different ways. It also has special folders inside the My Documents folder for saved web pages (a great place to move your personal homepage portal so Opera can "see" it and load it), for Voice Recording and more.

In the Settings you will find the Profiles and Themes editor, data connections for GPRS (needs some simplification still), Bluetooth management, call settings for speed dial, call barring, fixed dialing, phone lock settings, Language, screen brightness, time & date (you will have to set it manually, it won't get it from the network) and more.

Of course, what is a modern phone without its PIM tools, right? In the E2 you will find a calculator (very easy to use), Calendar, a SyncML option, a recurring Alarm, World Clock application with up to 3 cities, a task list and a notepad. Unfortunately, the notepad won't read simple .txt files fron My Documents folder. The Voice Recorder records in the AMR format, and its recordings are viewable from the file manager (and so they can be applied as ringtones via the file manager). Finally, we had no problem typing text using the iTap prediction system.

In the Media section you can either select the kind of application you want loaded (e.g. camera, video, voice recording or music), or you can easily search for a song via a simple interface. The search action will search through its pre-indexed archive to find a matching song (indexing must be manually done each time you add/remove songs on your SD card). At the "Music and sounds" section you can sort your media via Playlists, Recently Played, Albums, Artists, Composers and Genres or "All" (sorted alphabetically but you can also sort via size, type and date). Selecting a song will start playing back that song. You can either then use the dedicated music hardware buttons on the side of the phone, or you can use the joystick to pause, fast forward, next/previous etc. When on that screen, pressing the music button below the left softkey will place the music player in the Home screen (similar to Nokia's Active Standby feature). The phone supports DRM, but if your songs are not DRM'ed, the phone will let you MMS, email or Bluetooth them away! There is equalizer support (choose from 6 presets, no manual equalizer), effect support (e.g. bass boost) and shuffle/repeat support. If you have an incoming call the music will automatically stop and after the end of the call it will auto-start again. Here we must note that the music player can play mp3, mid, RA, AAC, AAC+ and even WMA files, but no OGG.

The video playback application is similar to the music playback one, with the exception that when you click the joystick in, it goes fullscreen. Some videos play ok, others drop frames way too much (even in my video of the phone in the previous page you can see the drop out of frames of QVGA video playback). Motorola and Real Player must do some work to optimize their app. 3GP, MP4 and RM videos are supported. The Picture viewing app allows you to create picture albums, and select via "recently viewed" and "year and month". You can do a slideshow, send it to the printer via bluetooth or apply it as a screensaver or background image.

The Normal Profile supports both ringtone and vibration (at last), while there is an airplane mode, Vibrate, Silent, Meeting, Sleeping, Active and Car. While on a call you can enable the speakerphone, change to the second line (if your SIM supports that), or put the person on the other side on hold. The voice quality during a call is pretty good.

Finally, the FM Radio. It looks very similar to the music player and it can also be pushed to the background (so you can do other stuff at the same time). The FM Radio requires a headset to be hooked in, as that works as its FM antenna. FM reception is better than in some other radio-capable phones. You can mute/unmute the sound (we got very clear sound), transfer the sound to the main speaker and back to your headset, and have 9 presets througout 6 FM bands. This means that you can have up to 54 FM presets. You can scan within the whole FM spectrum or withim just your presets. You will have to enter the Radio names manually in the presets though, as only the FM Hz are recognized by the phone.

Table of contents
  1. "The Hardware"
  2. "The Software"
  3. "The Problems"
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