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Mot Linux phone boasts soft MMI, haptics

Jan 10, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 6 views

Motorola's newest Linux phone boasts a soft MMI (man-machine interface) that changes with the phone's mode. The Rokr E8 is a quad-band GSM/GPRS phone with 2-megapixel camera, multi-codec music player, a “full” HTML browser, and unique “haptics” system aimed at providing “tactile response” to virtual keypresses.

(Click for larger view of E8's three interface modes)

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Motorola unveiled the Rokr E8 this Sunday, in Las Vegas, at the Consumer Electronics Trade show. The chameleon-like user-interface surprised many, while others had long expected the development.

For example, market research firm ARCchart forecast nearly a year ago that within five years (well, four, by now) some 38 percent of phones will incorporate “control surfaces” such as touchscreens and touchpanels. At the time, Research Director Matt Lewis stated, “Eventually, control surfaces will give rise to soft interfaces, where buttons, keypads, keyboards, and various navigation elements are rendered graphically on a touch-sensitive screen to provide interfaces which can change dynamically depending on context and the application.”

The E8's soft interface, dubbed “ModeShift,” appears to offer modes for telephony, photo-/videography, and media playback, as depicted in the image gallery below. One interesting feature appears to be a virtual “FastScroll” wheel aimed at letting users quickly thumb their way through large music collections.

Motorola's Rokr E8
(Click any image to enlarge)

Published specs and features include:

  • 4.5 x 2.1 x 0.4 inches (115 x 53 x 10.6mm)
  • 3.5 ounces (100grams)
  • Quad Band; GPRS/EDGE class 12
  • 970mAh batter
  • 2-inch QVGA (240×320) display with 262K colors
  • 2GB or optionally 4GB internal flash storage
  • 3.5 mm stereo headset jack
  • Stereo Bluetooth A2DP and AVRCP profiles
  • 2.0 megapixel camera with 8x zoom, multi-shot feature, video capture
  • Airplane mode, works without a SIM card
  • Talking phone offers a voice readout of text messages while dialing number or when receiving a call, Motorola says
  • Supported file formats include MIDI, MP3, AAC, AAC+, Enhanced AAC+, WMA, WAV, AMR-NB, Real Audio (RA) v10
    • RA support is unusual on mobile phones, despite stations like the BBC still confining themselves to the format
  • “CrystalTalk” voice processing
  • “Full” HTML browser
  • USB 2.0 Hi-speed (400Mbps)


The E8 is expected to ship in Q1, 2008. Following in Q2 will be a pair of “wireless speakers,” including a “EQ5” model described as “pocket-sized,” and “EQ7” described as a “state-of-the-art sound system” designed by speaker house JBL. Both will have microphones, and buttons to switch between music playback and calls, and connect to the E8 and other sources via Bluetooth or a good old-fashioned 1/8th-inch stereo minijack.

In other Motorola news, the company has started selling a “Luxury” edition of its Linux-based RAZR2 V8. Clad in fake snakeskin and gold plate, the unlocked device fetches $670 direct from Motorola's online store.

Motorola's other big Linux phone for the U.S., the original MotoRokr Z6 (formerly MotoRizr Z6) continues to be widely available as well.

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