Review: Motorola ROKR E8
When you hit any key you get a localized haptic feedback, tactile response you feel through your finger where it is pressing rather than the whole body of the phone vibrating. E8's localized haptic feedback is less the feel of pressing a real button and more as a sliding buzz. If feels and sounds as if there's something loose beneath the glass, like you're squashing an ant beneath a silk handkerchief. It feels slightly yucky, and it took me a while to get used to it. It's not good or bad, just different, and I was glad to have it.
Worse, we could not predict the sensitivity of the touch keys. More often than not, a reasonable amount of pressure produced the required result. But for some reason, every once in a while, I touched and nothing happened. Sometimes I pressed with regular pressure and the music paused – and sometimes it didn't. I'd press harder and longer and sometimes the music paused, and sometimes it didn't. I'd lightly touch and sometimes the music paused, and sometimes it didn't. This happened more frequently with the "pause" icon for music, which was doubly annoying considering the lack of pause control on the earphone switchhook. Once I pretended that I was pressing real keys instead of a touch screen, though, the occasional lapses became less psychologically annoying.
I also had trouble mastering scrolling via the 270-degree navigation arc. If you try and circle around it like on an iPod, there's a pause in the on-screen action as you pass over the vacant section. Once you got used the how the arc navigation worked – you speed up by moving your finger to the end of the arc and holding it there speeds through long lists, especially handy for scrolling through your music tracks. Moving your finger back to the center/top of the arc slowed the scroll and I got pretty adept at stopping where I wanted. But arc navigation isn't as efficient for short menu lists, where traditional up/down/left/right pad provides more precise navigation.
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Even if the touch aspects of the E8 worked perfectly all the time, the capabilities add nothing to the varying E8 functions. Standard push keys with changing backlit labels or a Blackberry-like trackpea (it's not big enough to be called a ball) or even an old-fashioned scroll wheel would have (and have) worked just as efficiently.