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Q&A: Is Nokia Comes With Music a good deal?

If you're confused about Nokia Comes With Music, we don't blame you -- we've rounded up all the deets in a quick Q&A so you can figure out whether it's the deal for you

What is it?
Comes With Music (CWM) is a music service provided by Nokia that combines an iTunes-style PC interface with a specific mobile phone. You buy a CWM phone and you get to download as much music as you like for a year.

How does it work?
Once you've purchased a CWM phone you install the bundled PC software and then input a code. You can then start downloading as much music as you like on to your PC for free and then transfer it to your phone. The service lasts a year.

What happens when my year is up?
You keep all the music you've downloaded, and you have a choice: downgrade and keep your original CWM handset, which you can still use to listen to all your CWM tracks, and pay for new music; or you can buy another CWM handset and continue to download as much music as you like for another year.

What phone do you get with Comes With Music?
To begin with, Nokia is going to sell the CWM service on the Nokia 5310 at Carphone Warhouse. Later on you'll be able to buy it on more phones, including the N95 8GB and the 5800, Nokia's first touchscreen phone.

How much does it cost?
The Nokia 5310 on CWM will cost £129.95 up front, on a pay as you go contract. At the moment CWM is a Carphone Warehouse exclusive and it will start selling the 5310 on 16 October. Carphone Warehouse and Nokia has yet to announce pricing for other handsets.

What kind of music can I download?
Nokia has done deals with EMI, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group -- all the major music labels in the world. It has also done deals with several independent labels, including Pinnacle.

Sounds pretty good. What's the catch?
The DRM. While you can keep the music you've downloaded, you can only play it on your PC or on your CWM phone. If you want to burn a CD of your music, you'll need to pay for additional rights. You're also locked to one PC for downloading music.

And there's really no limit?
That's what Nokia says. It has one caveat: if the average usage for all users reached an undisclosed level, Nokia reserves the right to restrict the number of downloads for individual users -- ie, the most active. So if it's really successful, you might find your downloads curbed.

Can I send my mates music via Bluetooth?
You can't send friends music from your phone unless they have a CWM phone too. Our understanding is that if you Bluetooth a song to another CWM user, they will only be able to activate and listen to the track once they sync their phone with their PC. This only applies to the 5310, as the Nokia N95 8GB and 5800 will offer song activation on the go.

What happens if I lose my phone or change PCs?
Nokia has informed us there will be a way to get another phone and renew your CMW service, but we haven't heard back on pricing yet. As for changing PCs or re-installing the service on your PC, you will be able to change PCs and reinstall the software, but only a certain number of times.

What do we think Nokia needs to add?
We definitely want to see the ability to access our CWM accounts on several PCs, so that we can download music at home and work. We'd also like to see over-the-air downloads so we can get new tracks on the go, but we'll have to wait for CWM on the N95 8GB and 5800 before we can do that.

So should I get it?
We haven't tested out the service yet, so we don't know how user-friendly it is. But on paper, £130 for a phone and as much music as you want is a terrific deal, especially considering that many pay as you go phones cost between £100 and £200 anyway. That's long as you don't mind the restrictions of only listening on your phone or PC, and having to buy a new phone every year. We don't think this will appeal to audiophiles, but it could make a great Christmas present for a music-mad teenager. -Andrew Lim