Tomorrow sees the launch of Nokia's Comes With Music service in the UK, via a deal with Carphone Warehouse to sell the first CWM handset, the 5310 XpressMusic. Nokia has lent journalists and bloggers a handset and an early login today, so we've been having a poke around.It requires the installation of the Nokia Music application on your PC – a 65.9MB download – which is essentially Nokia's version of iTunes, allowing users to manage and play their music library in the same application from which they download new stuff. There's an option to have it scan your hard drive for DRM-free music you already own.Right from the start, Nokia has clearly placed a big emphasis on the user interface. There's a nifty rollover tutorial the first time you launch the application, every element has a pop-up explanation when you hover over it, and there's lots of drag'n'drop functionality. So how does Comes With Music itself shape up?The signup process (right) is extremely quick – all they ask for is a username, password, email address, phone number and the Comes With Music PIN code that's found inside the box of the 5310 XpressMusic. Once in, the store is basically the existing Nokia Music Store, except without prices.So, just like that, you can listen to 30-second previews of tracks, or click on Download buttons to add them to your Current Downloads list.From our early test, it seems there's a pretty good range of tracks available – CWM's Top 40 chart matches the Official UK Top 40 chart pretty well, bar the strange omission of Oasis, who don't have ANY albums available on the service, including their current chart-topper.When something's added to your download queue, it's displayed at the bottom right of the screen (see right), with progress bars to show how the currently downloading track is progressing.Actually, we're impressed by the way the Now Playing bar sits at the side of the screen at all times, whether you're in the store or in your library. In iTunes, you have to flip back and forth between My Library and the iTunes Store, whereas here it's always on the same screen. A small touch, but nice to have.Once downloaded, tracks are added to your My Music library (right), which can be sorted in a number of ways, by artist, album, track or genre, with or without artwork.Everything is drag'n'drop here too – play tracks by dragging them to the Now Playing bar, or transfer them to your CWM phone by dragging them to its icon, which sits at the left-hand side of the screen.There's a Burn CD icon here too, allowing you to drag tracks for burning. However, as previously reported, CWM downloads AREN'T allowed to be burned to CD. Naturally, we tried, and got a polite pop-up message for our trouble reminding us of that fact.Nokia's approach to this is a button at the top-right of the Store screen, which when in CWM mode reads 'Purchase Music' (right). Click on it, and prices re-appear on all the tracks and albums, allowing you to buy them outright.So far, we're mightily impressed with the intuitive and user-friendly nature of the Nokia Music (and by extension Comes With Music) interface. Apple has been rightly lauded for making the music purchase and playback process simple and easy for non-techies, but Nokia has clearly paid attention to iTune's better points too.What else to mention? We had a squizz at the file info for one of our CWM downloaded tracks (right – click on the image to see it at a readable size). It's a 192 kbps WMA file, with no particular surprises – the DRM covers unlimited plays, but no burn or transfer rights.We'll be taking more of a dig around the service to see exactly how deep its catalogue goes – UPDATE: we've found some big omissions – and also taking a look at how it works on the 5310 handset. And of course there remain questions about the business model and likely rollout of Comes With Music.But for now, we're certainly impressed with the user experience.
First impressions of Nokia Comes With Music service
October 15th, 2008 by Music Ally