M:robe tries to do too much

Olympus's M:robe 500i is the first new generation player we've seen to add a digital camera to the mix. We give Olympus credit for a great concept, but it's a hat trick the company does not quite pull off. The device plays WMA and MP3 music files, displays photos on its 3.7in (640x480 resolution) colour screen, and provides a built-in 1.2-megapixel camera.

As a 20GB music player, it's a little bulky at 210g and measuring 109.4x73.4x21.2mm (WxHxD). The audio quality was about par, and the in-line remote is handy.

Digital photos transferred to the M:robe looked pretty good on the screen, but shots I took with its camera were flat and a little dark. Operating the M:robe is simple enough. You get an on/off switch, but you handle everything else by touching the screen and the fairly simple menu system. In use, however, a noticeable delay usually occurred as the M:robe accessed its hard drive and responded to a selection.

Battery life was good: about 2.5 hours playing both audio and slide shows, 8.5 hours playing audio alone. A few extra features would make the next M:robe more attractive - such as being able to connect a digital camera directly. A media slot would also be a nice addition.

M:robe 500i

Price $649 Vendor Olympus Phone 1300 659 679 URL www.olympus.com.au OVERALL 6

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