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On October 13, 2004, Olympus released two MP3 players: the 5GB MR-100 with monochrome display and the 20GB MR-500i with colour display and built in camera. The MR-100’s release price was $249.99 (USD), and the MR-500i’s release price was $499.99 (USD). The later MR-F10, MR-F20, and MR-F30 players with colour screens, drag-and-drop file transferring, and FM tuning and recording were only released in Asia. Production of the m:robe music players has now ceased, however some models are still available. The name m:robe is a contraction of Music wardROBE.
The MR:100 is a 5GB MP3 player. It has a bright red on deep blood red 1.25 x 1 inch display which is 160 pixels wide and 128 pixels high. It also has a touch pad for the controls that glows red where the sensitivity pads are. The entire front is covered in a single piece of plastic, and when the m:robe is turned off or idling, the front turns all black. It has a metal back painted in Pearl White, although in Japan limited numbers were also available with a Pearl Pink or Lagoon Blue back. The MR-100 uses the same PortalPlayer PP5020 CPU as the iPod mini, and uses a very similar interface. The player is compatible with MP3 and WMA files. It includes an AC adapter, a USB cable, a dock, a pair of earbuds, a headphone extension wire, a CD-ROM with the player's software, and documentation. Additional accessories available include a red or black rubber sleeve and a wired remote that plugs into the MR:100.
Rockbox is now fully functional on the m:robe 100 series and allows many features not possible in the original firmware.
The MR-500i is a 20GB MP3 player/camera combo. It has a 3.7 inch 640x480 (VGA) 262,144 colour LCD touch screen. The player has the ability to play music and take photos, as well as a “remix” mode where the user can choose a song to play with a selection of photos. It comes with a wired remote which allows you to change between songs, view the song being played, and change the volume. The remote is also available as an optional accessory for the MR:100. The back of the player is Pearl White like the original MR-100. The MR-500i supports MP3 and WMA audio files. It comes with an AC adapter, a USB cable, a dock, a pair of earbuds, the m:robe remote, a CD-ROM with the player's software, and documentation.
The MR-Fxx series consists of the MR-F10, MR-F20, and MR-F30. They are only available in Asia. They are all available with 512MB and 1GB flash memory, except the MR-F20 which only comes in 512MB. They all have color screens with varying resolutions and color depth. The MR-F10 and MR-F20 have 65,536-colour organic electroluminescent displays, and the MR-F30 has a 262,144-color organic electroluminescent display. The MR-F10 is available in pearl white or gloss black, and comes with an earbud neckstrap. The MR-F20 follows in the MR-100's footsteps, with a pearl white back and a piece of plastic on the front, with black behind it and recessed touch buttons (similar to the 3G iPod) that glow red. The MR-F30 is available in white and black. The MR-F20 and MR-F30 have a built-in FM tuner with an aircheck function for recording radio broadcasts. The MR-F30 and MR-F20 have a built in voice recorder. A Drag and Drop interface can be used instead of m:trip.
The device's main software in transferring media between the player and a computer is called m:trip, and has been heavily criticised by m:robe users. The software initially only ran on Windows 2000 or Windows XP (Home and Professional), and not supporting Macintosh or Linux. Later it did support Linux. M-trip software requires users to “Sync” to upload music, and if you sync an m:robe from a different computer, it deletes all of the music, to prevent piracy. In addition, the program has been accused of having numerous syncing bugs; notably in version 1.06 of the software, some computers are unable to sync any files to the m:robes. This problem can only be fixed by replacing a .dll file. More detailed instructions on how to solve this problem can be found here: http://www.mrobe.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=21&Itemid=5.
m:trip 2.0 (126.96.36.199) was released July 5, 2006 (only for Japan), which made improvements to the software, including adding a Remix-Cube function, an automatic update/importing of music, and a new service named Olio. More information about the update can be found in the forums of the m:robe community site http://www.mrobe.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1806. An English patch was made for the 2.0 version by independent developers, but it was rendered obsolete when Olympus released version 2.1. This version created a new save folder option for remix cubes and made minor changes and additions to the remix function and to the program itself. The patch was released in Japan and is available for download here: m:trip 2.0. An English patch is available here: English Patch. More information about version 2.1 can be found here: http://www.mrobe.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=26114.
Various m:trip replacements have been released by independent developers. Their aim is to provide a simple unintrusive alternative to m:trip without any of its multimedia capabilities. Below is a list of most of the currently available alternatives.
On November 9, 2005, Olympus announced that they were stopping production of the m:robes. Many users say that it was due to the lack of marketing — the only marketing in the United States was two Super Bowl ads. Many users also predicted this stop, due to the drop in price of the m:robes shortly before the action was taken, and the fact that the MR-100 was being sold at Radio Shack for $100 USD after rebates. There are only a few accessories for the m:robes.
The m:robe line of players are no longer available for purchase from the Olympus website and Olympus has frozen the development of the next generation of m:robe products to put more resources into its digital camera and audio recording research, development, marketing and sales.
M:robe music players can still be purchased on eBay and other used electronics outlets.
Firmware and software updates are available at http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_downloads.asp?id=91.
There is a flaw in version 1.06 of m:trip, a fix can be found at http://www.mrobe.org/content/view/21/4/.
There is an active community for the m:robes at http://www.mrobe.org/.
A port of the Rockbox open source firmware is currently available for the m:robe 100, and a work-in-progress port for the m:robe500i is underway. A version of Linux has also been made for the m:robe.
MR-100 can be used with LCD remote(RM-13) and Data Sync/Charge Cradle. RM-13 Has "Heart" Button which let you add songs to favorite list. RM-13 Displays Track Time, Title, Battery, and Track Number. Languages supported on RM-13 remote are English, Korean, and Japanese. However other languages might be displayed. Also RM-13 has green backlit. There are also mode and digital volume buttons.
- Rockbox (alternative, open source firmware for the m:robe 100)