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Engadget @ Motorola's ROKR E1 launch

Ryan Block, @ryan

MOTOROKR event Webster Hall front

So we hit up that MOTOROKR event last night—yeah, that's what they were calling the launch party they threw for the ROKR E1 phone we know you're dying for us to drop another 400 posts on. We tooled around with the little bugger for a little while; read on if you're at all interested in our impressions of the whole thing, which by this point in the game we wouldn't exactly blame you if you weren't.

Moto definitely went all out on the music angle for the event. Besides the celebrity packed commercial (no pun intended), they'd plastered photographs of everyone from Madonna to Iggy Pop to ?uestlove to The Bravery all over the place. All the devices were in phone booths, or phone booth style booths, har har.

MOTOROKR event ROKR angle

So anyone who?s ever held a Motorola E398 more or less knows what to expect from the experience of playing with a ROKR E1. Really, same thing. It?s a moderately small, light, and sturdy feeling device. We?ll try and save our whining about the severe lighting issues the venue had on a phone that already obviously doesn?t photograph that well, but the shots we have should suffice until we get a proper review of the thing up.

MOTOROKR event ROKR back angle
MOTOROKR event ROKR angle 2

Honestly, iTunes on the E1 (what they?re calling their iPod-like music interface) was not but slow and unresponsive on the two units we played around with. Moving back and forth through artists and menus while the music was playing caused some ugly lag, as did even doing simple things like changing the volume.

MOTOROKR event ROKR front
MOTOROKR event ROKR front

Generally everything felt in place for the music interface, however. It wasn?t immediately clear how to do really simple things like pause the music or skip or rewind since there aren?t any hard keys for those features, but it was definitely a usable device.

MOTOROKR event ROKR innard

It?s not super easy to tell here, but we can confidently say that getting the SIM and MicroSD cards out was an unbelievably painful experience, one that almost made us lose our cool. Granted, the design of the E398 remained largely unchanged for the ROKR E1, so it?s not like we were terribly surprised by this or anything. Still, if they?re going to hit us with that 100 song cap on the in-phone iTunes library, they might as well have at least made it easier to access the, um, removable memory.

Before we took off (but as The Juan MacLean were opening for Common), we took a moment to hit up our man Ed Zander, who was chilling with Geoffrey Frost, Senior VP of Moto Marketing. What?d we get out of them? Well, not much, honestly, but they have an 18-month (minimum) ROKR product-line roadmap (no surprise there). We also got the distinct impression of ambivalence about working with Apple, especially when we queried about how they feel about the fact that they won?t necessarily be the only handset maker to license iTunes for mobile phones. Go fig.

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