Meet the ROKR E1
Just like an iPod, the ROKR E1 is completely dependent on the desktop iTunes software to fill 'er up with music. The E1 connects to iTunes on a PC or Mac via a USB 1.0 cable, which is included. Although the E1 includes a full set of Bluetooth profiles, iTunes doesn't support syncing over Bluetooth.
In many ways, the ROKR E1 falls somewhere in-between an iPod Shuffle and an iPod mini. Pretty much like an iPod Shuffle, it can only hold 100 songs, and you can tell iTunes to "Autofill" the ROKR with a random assortment of songs from your collection.
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But you also have the option of choosing specific songs to load, and it can handle playlists just like a full-blown iPod.
Like an iPod, the 512 MB memory card can be used for things other than iTunes music. But also like an iPod, the iTunes music is kept completely separate from other files. So an MP3 music file loaded manually onto the memory card can be used as a ringtone, but isn't available within iTunes. Similarly, an MP3 loaded via iTunes isn't available for use as a ringtone.
So what's next for iTunes on phones? We may see one more iTunes phone from Motorola before the year is out, or perhaps early next year, but don't expect anything radically different from the E1. The next iTunes phone will also be an existing model you're probably familiar with, just with iTunes software loaded. You won't have to remove the battery to swap memory cards, but otherwise the features will be nearly identical to the E1.
2006, however, will bring much more interesting ROKR phones from Motorola, some with iTunes and some without. We snagged a brief glimpse of one such phone just a few weeks ago.
So what's the bottom line? Although it's not anything unexpected or ground-breaking, the ROKR E1 still seems like a very capable phone, and a decent music player. If you're a fan of the iPod interface or the iPod Shuffle, but don't want to carry two devices, the ROKR E1 might be for you. It's also a solid choice for someone who wants a music phone and has a large collection of music purchased via the iTunes Music Store. Actually it's the only such choice at the moment, but it's nonetheless a good one.
Since we kicked off with the start-up animation, we'll leave you with a video clip of the slick shut-down animation:
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