Motorola M25 Digital Audio Player (256MB)
Motorola's M25 Digital Audio Player, which uses technology from MP3-player pioneer Rio, is designed for active types who want to listen to their tunes during a workout. Although some users may find the device's operations menu a bit confusing, this expandable, flash-based unit should satisfy those looking for a rugged, splashproof player that supports DRM-protected files.
At 2.5 by 2.5 by 0.9 inches, the M25 is a boxy little number, but its 2.4-ounce weight won't slow you down. Stylish in an industrial sense, the M25 has bright-orange rubber trimmings on its silver casing, indicating that this device is designed to handle the mild bumps and jostling that come with jogging and going to the gym. Motorola includes a holster and an armband so that you can keep your hands free for these activities.
Front and center on the M25 you'll find the ample LCD, which has gray (and rather dim) backlighting. The small, four-way thumbstick on the right side of the unit provides access to the main playback controls and the Menu button. Controls for these functions are also embedded behind the rubber sheath on the face of the device, but pressing them takes a bit of work. Below the thumbstick you'll find a Hold switch and a dedicated power button, while the volume control sits on top of the unit.
Motorola's tendency to make its cell phones' basic operation more confusing than necessary is also reflected in the M25's somewhat bizarre menu control. Once you're in Menu mode, you make your selection by pushing the joystick. That should be enough to register your selection, but the M25 also makes you press FF. Similarly, you'd think that pressing RW would take you back a step after making a selection; instead, this cancels whatever selection you've made. Also, because there's no dedicated Record button, you press and hold Play/Pause to start and stop FM recordings.
The M25 supports MP3, Audible, and DRM-protected WMA files, so you can play music purchased from online music stores. It took the included Music Manager application about five minutes to locate more than 1,300 tracks on our PC. With this done, you can set up a manual or automatic sync profile for the device. Automatic syncing fills the device to a certain capacity, which you specify. You can also use the software to rip CDs to your hard drive, but it encodes files in WMA format; for MP3 support, you'll have to purchase an upgrade pack. If you're like us, you'll stick with Windows Media Player. The M25 is also fully compatible with iTunes.