When ‘Comes With Music’ was first launched, I was skeptical. There were obvious evils, DRM’d tracks, additional cost for the service when you could get the same handset for cheaper without it, a not so stellar PC client, no Mac support to name the popular ones. The rollout of CWM devices was slow, scattered and thus adoption slow. It never really got the popularity that some of Nokia’s other Ovi services such as Maps received and didn’t become a huge selling point. That should change, here’s why.
The price at which the N8 sells in India, is the cheapest anywhere in the world. Despite that, it comes with a subscription to Ovi Music Unlimited, essentially giving you access to over 4 million songs for the grand price of free. The Nokia N8 is my first ‘Comes With Music’ device, or rather my first ‘Ovi Music Unlimited’ device as Nokia would have me say. Read on to find out my experience with the store.
Till now you had to scratch the Nokia Music Store voucher, retrieve the pin, enter it on the music.ovi.com portal and then get access to the music. With the N8, everything was seamless, you sign in with your Ovi account in the beginning and everything is activated automatically, no scratching for a pin, nothing. The phone automatically receives the activation PIN code as a text message, but you never really have to use it. Infact, you can start downloading even without signing in to your Ovi Account, that’s only needed if you want to use the service on the PC as well.
Once you launch the Ovi Music app on the mobile, you see a neatly organised music store with the latest popular releases highlighted and options to get to other genres, playlists and so on. If it is an album you are browsing, there is a neat download all button at the top or you can choose to download tracks individually as well.
However, if you are browsing music by playlists, charts or any other medium that is not a album you will not be able to download all tracks in one go. I do hope an update to the client brings this ability as well. Another thing I would like to see is the ability to mark tracks in one go and then download the selection.
Everytime you open Ovi Music app, it automatically signs you in and takes you to the store selection page, so it takes about 5 seconds by the time you actually get to the store, its not a huge irritant, but Nokia would do well to make this even more seamless. Other than that the store is easy enough to navigate and the search works well.
In India, Ovi Music comes with over 150 local labels (T-Series, Yash Raj Music, Venus, Saregama, Tips), along with support for the major international labels. Add to that music in regional languages such as Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati, Tamil and Marathi. I need not go into the depth of the Ovi Music library, suffice it to say you will even be able to find 50 year old music that otherwise would be next to impossible to find.
One major nicety about music downloaded from the Ovi Music Store is than all the meta-data is there, artist/album information, album art and so on. On the new Symbian^3 devices, it a pleasure to scroll through music this way and it continuously makes you want to download more.
Under the ‘Ovi Music Unlimited’ service, all tracks that you download come with DRM restrictions and I can already see a lot of you moan. However, the N8 doesn’t make you feel bound. There is a 3.5mm jack for headphones, you can even play music over the HDMI connector, over bluetooth headphones and to top it all there is an FM transmitter. Then, if you have friends who also happen to have a ‘OMU’ device, you can share music between yourselves via bluetooth or otherwise. If you work on a Windows computer, then your desktop needs are settled too. Not only is the Ovi Music Client for PC’s in India much lighter (3MB v 60 MB) but you can also use multiple PC’s to download music to your phone, that’s a lot of freedom considering you are dealing with DRM’d tracks here.
What I liked:
- Millions of songs, free to download.
- Built in OMU cost, the N8 still cheapest compared to anywhere in the world.
- Ability to download complete albums in one go, on the go.
- 30 second live streaming previews which help you decided if you want to download the song.
What could be better:
- The startup/loading time of the app.
- Ability to select individual songs from an album/playlist and download them in one go.
- Work with developers like Shazam to make an version that identifies the song, and then lets you download it straight from the Ovi Music Store.
All in all, Ovi Music Unlimited is a much bigger deal that I thought. Infact, it has become my most used Ovi service, I might use the store a few times a week or maps to navigate once a week, but when you know there is so much music just waiting to be heard, you visit much more often. It is also one of the major reasons why I like the N8. Ovi Music Unlimited along with the FM transmitter makes it the best portable music player on the planet, far ahead of anything Apple with its iTunes can achieve. Armed with an app like Shazam, Ovi Music Unlimited could be a music enthusiast’s dream.