Moving sharply away from the familiar clamshell design of the, and the thoroughly disappointing , the Rokr E8 is a refreshing new music phone from Motorola that's got us hot under the collar.
At face value it looks fairly straightforward, but it's got more than a few tricks up its sleeve to give it a real edge. As you can see, there's a relatively large screen, but it's the navigation keys and keypad that are really interesting.
At the top there's a three-quarter scroll wheel, which lets you search through music and other lists, such as your contacts, very quickly. Underneath that is a dynamic touch-sensitive keypad that changes its face depending on the feature you're using.
If you access the music player, dedicated music keys pop up. If you switch to camera mode, special photo keys apper. What we really like about this touch-sensitive keypad though, is way it takes haptic feedback one step further than just shaking the whole phone. The E8 only vibrates the key you're pressing, making the experience much more like you're tapping a mechanical key.
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You're probably familiar with the Sony Ericsson W880i, which is a pretty good phone but suffers from a rather awkward-to-use keypad. This is the W880i's successor and thankfully Sony Ericsson has addressed the problem -- it's much easier to use.
It's a very different kind of phone to the Rokr E8. For starters, there's a forward-facing camera for 3G video calling. The E8 doesn't offer one because it doesn't have 3G -- it does have EDGE though.
While the E8 offers a flat keypad and touch-sensitive keys, the W890i is all mechanical, but you do get a variety of hard keys that give you access to different functions.
One feature lacking on the W890i is an easy way to scroll through contacts, tracks and other long lists. On the E8 you can use the scroll wheel, whereas the W890i relies on a nav key, which you have to press up and down.
Although it's difficult to tell from a photographs, the W890i is slightly smaller than the E8, coming in at 47mm wide, 104mm tall and 10mm deep. The E8 measures 53mm wide, 115mm tall and 10.6mm deep.
Both the E8 and the W890i are thin, but what do they manage to pack inside? The E8 comes with 2GB of onboard memory and the option to expand via microSD (up to 4GB), which means you can store about 1,000 songs on it.
The E8 handily offers a 3.5mm headphone jack, which allows you to plug any standard pair of headphones straight in, without the need for any fiddly adaptors -- or having to use the normally rubbish proprietary headphones.
Unlike the E8, the W890i doesn't have much onboard memory, but you can add up to 4GB via a Memory Stick Micro (M2) card.
Kicking the E8 right where it hurts is the W890i's HSDPA (3.5G), which wooshes past the E8's EDGE and lets you browse the Web very quickly indeed.
There's no built-in 3.5mm headphone jack on the W890i and you have to use an adaptor to plug in normal headphones, which is a real shame. This brings it down a few notches, putting it neck and neck with the E8.
Tucked away on the top left corner you'll find the E8's 2-megapixel camera, which doesn't come with an LED photo light or flash. While it's important to keep in mind that megapixels aren't everything, we feel a little disappointed there's not more on offer in the E8's image department.
In a similar location to the E8's camera, the W890i's 3.2-megapixel snapper is also at the top left of the back of the phone. There's no LED photo light or flash, so don't expect great shots in low light from either of these phones.
Overall we think the Sony Ericsson W890i is a better fit for the Crave team, with the HSDPA mobile broadband the clincher -- we like to download stuff rapidamente when we're on the move. As a music phone the E8 has tonnes to offer though, so we might end up carrying both devices -- and since they're so thin, it won't really matter.