Not everybody in the world who is looking for a digital music player with around 5GB of storage chooses an iPod mini. In fact there is a huge amount of competition, and some of it from surprising sources. Take the m:robe MR-100, for example, which comes from Olympus – hardly a name that trips off the tongue when you think about digital music.
The m:robe MR-100 is a weeny 5BG player, not too badly priced, and designed with the style conscious user in mind. Olympus has just one other digital media unit in its portfolio at the moment, the MR-500i, a larger music and photo manager with a 20GB hard drive and (naturally) an integrated digital camera.
As is usual the m:robe MR-100 comprises both the unit itself and software for organising and transferring your music. First impressions of the player are very strong, but delve deeper, and some issues pop up that could well tip the scales against a purchase.
The player is small and light. It weighs 100g and is 90mm tall, 52mm wide and 14.9mm deep – small enough for most pockets, then.
It is supplied with a rather nice tan coloured drawstring protective bag and a pearl-white docking cradle, coloured to match the sides and back of the m:robe MR-100 itself. You don’t have to use the cradle to transfer files, as the docking cable can plug straight into the player. Note that this cable is USB at the PC end but proprietary at the m:robe MR-100 end, so don’t lose it. You do have to use either the cradle or the docking cable to charge the m:robe MR-100’s internal battery as there is no direct connector dedicated to power on the player itself.
The quoted battery life is up to 12 hours and I reckon I managed up to ten between charges, which is reasonable. But the battery indicator seems to goes from full to out very quickly, which can be rather annoying.