Of course headphones are also provided, and these are, boringly and predictably, white. They aren’t the most comfortable I’ve ever worn, and they come with an extension cable. Funny, I thought, when I opened the packaging, but its purpose became clear very quickly – the headphones are actually too short to extend from player to ear if the player is sitting in your pocket and your ears are an average distance from there.
The extender has a right-angled connection to the player and again I wondered what was going on here, but only until I located the socket on the m:robe MR-100. It’s on the left edge of the casing rather than on the top – very awkward for pocket-based use, but the harsh angle of the headphones jack is rectified by the right-angled extender.
I can’t help thinking Olympus should have commissioned new headphones and designed the player with the headphones socket on the top edge rather than deliver a pretty suspect first thirty seconds of user experience.
Where the m:robe MR-100 shines, in my view, is the general styling of the hardware and the user interface. Not everyone will like a player that looks like a slab of shiny black stuff when it’s not in use but lights up like a red balloon when you prod its front. But I rather do.
The LED screen is two tone red and is gorgeous, while the controls are touch sensitive rather than button based with a column of lights down the middle that shine like the guiding-lights in a darkened cinema. Run your finger up and down this to scroll through menus on the screen and play with the volume. Other controls are on either side of this column. On the left are icons for going to the player’s main menu, moving back and switching between playlist, currently playing track info, and track lyrics – more on that later. On the right are play/pause and forward icons. There is also a hold button on the left edge of the casing.