Nokia 5800 ??? take 2! And a review of the Nokia Music store

The Nokia 5800Recently I was the proud owner of a Nokia 5800 XpressMusic phone.

Media_http1bpblogspot_amhcj

After my last Nokia was barred (from all networks) I managed to get my money back with some assistance from Paypal.  I was back at the point where I could go either way – an iPhone or another Nokia 5800.It took a week of deliberations and I was close to buying an iPhone, although I eventually decided to replace my Nokia 5800.  I decided to gamble on Ebay again – I have had lots of other phones off there without problems.  I bought a new unlocked Nokia 5800 but this time with the Comes with Music package.  The phone cost a mere £10 more than the phone I returned so it was a bargain.I made a list of the reasons I went for another Nokia:

  • I like the remote control – very handy when I’m dog walking
  • Works with a range of Windows software
  • About a third of the price of the iphone
  • I don’t really use Apps on the phone apart from the odd email check or GPS location check.
  • I had a stock of screen protectors and case for the Nokia
  • I was worried about breaking the glass screen on the iPhone (and iPhone insurance is quite expensive, and there is an excess on my contents insurance)
  • The Nokia is unlocked to all networks – handy for if my network won’t renew the retention deal I have
  • free music downloads for the year
  • an alphanumeric keypad (onscreen) for entering text, quicker than onscreen QWERTY

Of course the phone doesn’t interface with my car audio, so I have to resort to the aux input.  However the draw of unlimited free music was enough to swing it – more on the music store below.Nokia Comes with MusicNokia supply their own software – Nokia Music for use with their handsets.  It is still in its infancy and the functionality falls way short of iTunes.  It also struggled with my collection of mp3’s (causing me much frustration) until I mended the ID3 tags using MediaMonkey.  I could have chosen to use a third party application (or even Windows Media Player) but I went for integration with the music store.  I had to spend an hour or two reorganising my collection and sorting out my album art since it didn’t find all the art that I had in iTunes.Signing up for Nokia Music is straightforward and involves creating an account and then entering a PIN code to activate your subscription.  This also locks your PC and your phone to your account.  There has to be a catch to free music (at Nokia’s prices) and the DRM is it.  Any music you buy is restricted to playback on your PC and phone – no CD burning or transfer to another player.Buying music is simple – simply click the download button (either for individual tracks or a whole album).  The software then downloads the music and saves it (with embedded album art).  You can request the software automatically copies purchased music (and/or playlists) to the phone when you connect, meaning that you always have your music with you.

Media_httplh5ggphtcom_fhqiu

Copying music from your library to the the phone is a simple right click away.  Building playlists is similar to the process in iTunes, simple and intuitive.  Ripping CDs is similarly easy, with artist and album art sourced over the internet.

Media_httplh4ggphtcom_etlpn

The software is far from perfect, and the hopefully it will also become more responsive as later versions are released.  Many of the features of iTunes can be replicated including shuffle play, which involves dropping lots of music into the play queue and then hitting the random button.  It is also possible to burn CD’s from your music collection, DRM permitting.I’ve found lots of holes in Nokia’s music collection, however there is still a large range of tracks available from a range of genres.  The music I’ve downloaded is a selection of old and new materials, and a mix of single tracks and whole albums.  I expected to feast on free music, but there with only a fixed amount of listening time I’ve downloaded 120 tracks in my first 6 days.Removing the DRMIt is possible to legally remove the DRM (according to the websites of various software products).  I tried Tunebite which is able to search your hard disc for DRM’d music and then create an unrestricted version of the tracks (complete with album art).  This means that at least I will be able to port my collection to whatever phone I buy next!Final thoughtsI hope to see more people consume music like this in the future.  The record companies have got to look again at pricing for digital music.  Why should a download of an album cost the same as buying a CD which has manufacturing, shipping and energy costs?  When the record companies see past their greed and look to what consumers actually want, we may tempt more people away from file sharing and in to legal music downloads.  If this happens then this brave experiment by Nokia seems doomed to fail.Update: New firmware v 40.0.005