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When I was buying an MP3 player I fell in love with the look of The Olympus M:robe and was more than happy with its 5GB that can play both WMA and MP3 formats. It has a battery life of around 12 hours and what I liked most was the black touch screen panel on the front (although this is prone to scratching after using for a while so make sure you use the case it comes with). The panel is a touch-sensitive interface area with red icons on display. You rub a vertical strip to move through menus, and tap at the icons to play, pause, etc. The screen is also red on a darker red background, and it looks both distinctive and eye-catching. It's LCD rather than LED.
The M:Robe is fairly lightweight, small and thin. It is 14.9mm deep x 52mm high and 90mm wide which fits into your pocket nicely. It can be synchronised to your computer using a standard USB cable and comes with a velvet case and a set of white headphones.
The M:Robe comes with its own software called M:Trip and this is easy to use (similar to iTunes). It is compatible with
'Gracenote CDDB' so it is easy to source the track names on the internet. I use the 'favourites' section most often and this just plays the songs I have allocated as my favourites.
Overall the m:robe is a great MP3 player. The sound quality is very good and it is cheaper than the more popular iPods. I would recommend this to people as an alternative!
The m:robe, well....this is an extremely modern looking item, and is completely different than anything else around and to be honest considering it is Olympus' first attempt at an MP3 player, it think it is excellent.
Here is all the techincal stuff! Its a 5GB HDD that can play both WMA and MP3 formats. It has a battery life of around 12 hours and it has a touchscreen panel on the front. It weighs 100g and can be bought for around £70 - £80 now from eBay. It can be synchronised to your computer using a standars USB cable. It has its own program called m:trip which is the equivalent of iTunes. It comes with a velvet case and a set of white headphones. The back of it is white metal and the front is a black panel touchscreen with red light that come on to show you where to press. It has a silver border around the outside of it. If you wish you can buy a remote control for it and you can quite easily replace the battery yourself as long as you have a small enough screwdriver.
Anyway, I think the m:robe is a good device, it is something very different to anything else on the market at the moment and is an excellent first attempt at branching out into MP3 players by Olympus. The touchscreen adds some class and something a little different, the red and black looks brilliant. As a power saving mode, the red lights on it go off after a few seconds so that power is not wasted. The only problem with the touch screen is that if your fingers are slightly damp it doesnt pick it up to well and can be quite annoying. Also, when you change track you go onto the menu and navigate to your desired song, then you have to press 'pause' then 'play' to actually get it to change, there is also a 1-2 second delay before it actually starts playing sometimes as well.
regarding the m:trip software, I have read so many reviews that say it is rubbish and hard to use and not user-friendly but I honestly don't know what these people are talking about. I never found it a problem, it is pretty much identical to iTunes, you put a CD in and you can use 'Gracenote CDDB' to find the track names on the internet for you so you don't have to do it yourself' or if you already have the MP3's on your computer just click 'Add To Library'. You can change the song names and artists easily when in there like iTunes and also create your own playlists on there so that you aren't messing around changing songs all the time. It has Top 25 Most Played and Most Recently Played playlists just as iTunes does and when you have finished, simply plug the m:robe in, turn the power on click on 'Synchronise' then after that has finished click 'Eject'. It is as easy as that!
The sound quality of the m:robe is excellent and the menu's are also easy to use, just the touchscreen makes it more annoying that it should be but then again iPods are like that as well with there 'clicker wheel'. One of the bigger advantages over the iPod as well is that it has WMA capability which means that you can compress songs more and still have them at a high quality. I recommend 128kbps, that is CD quality, there isnt really any need for more.
Oh yes one other thing, the m:robe's volume doesn't go as high as the likes of iPods, the is probably about 3/4 of what the iPod goes to, so that is something to take into consideration when buying it, it isnt a problem to me because I never listen to it on full blast anyway. I think because it is made in Europe it is a safety precaution to stop ear damage.
The front screen can get quite easily scratched and it is advisable to leave it in the velvet case as much as possible. You can also buy a leather one for it now off the internet, although I didn't because i though it was a rip-off, it was around £25. Be careful not to band it as well as the back can dent, it doesnt damage the actual player or stop it from working but it does dent. If also has a soft reset button on the bottom in case it ever crashed or anything, mine has never crashed.
Overall the m:robe is a lot cheaper than an iPod nano, and is still very small, not a patch on the nano but smaller than the MINI iPod. It also has 1GB more memory. I would recommend this!