Nokia's striking 5610 XpressMusic has headline grabbing music player functionality but this 3G mobile does much more than play a decent tune
Nokia has been making plenty of noise about mobile music recently, announcing a spread of music download and streaming mobile internet services. At the core of its handset range, though, Nokia has been equally busy upgrading its specialist mobile music phones.
Headline grabbers such as the N95 8GB and N81 8GB demonstrate that Nokia is prepared to go toe-to-toe at the high-end of the phone market. But Nokia has also introduced more models into its funkier XpressMusic music orientated phone range.
The 5610 XpressMusic uses the same eye-catching, brash look as its lower-tier 5310 XpressMusic stablemate - black and graphite, trimmed with either red or blue brushed aluminium side panelling. The 5610 XpressMusic though offers a higher spec phone for your bucks.
The 5610 is a 3G-enabled sliderphone that sports a 3.2-megapixel camera on the back panel, a secondary video calling camera up front above its large 2.2-inch display, and has full high speed web browsing capabilities.
Unlike previous Nokia XpressMusic models, the 5610 doesn't have a distinctive set of dedicated music buttons separate from the main controls. Instead, it employs a neat spring-loaded slider control immediately below the display to flick quickly between the music player, FM radio application and the standby screen. The 5610's main D-pad select key is labelled as a play/pause button, but the D-pad operates the usual music player controls in much the same way as many other Nokia models.
Under the surface, the chassis of the 5610 XpressMusic follows the template of the Nokia 6500 slide. It has broadly similar dimensions - with the plastic casing of the 5610 a touch larger (98.5(h) x 48.5(w) x 17(d)mm) and lighter (111g) than the 6500 slide's; the button layout (apart from the slider) is duplicated, as is the camera and flash positioning and its socketry. The overall look, though, is very different- more urban, Nokia reckons.
The 5610 has a glossy black plastic front panel that covers the D-pad and softkey controls, plus scratch resistant covering over the 240x320 pixels, 16.7-million colour display. Inevitably, this along with the pimpled plastic back cover, and glossy plastic keyboard, gives the 5610 a plasticky feel that the aluminium framing doesn't do much to offset.
The music player onboard the 5610 XpressMusic is naturally the focus of attention here. It can handle MP3, MP4, AAC, eAAc , and WMA music files, and cover art is supported too. The user interface is straightforward to use, and uncluttered, using essentially the same software employed on other recent Nokia Series 40 handsets, such as the 5310 XpressMusic and 6500 models - though with customisable XpressMusic 'skins' available to make the player user interface look slightly different.
Tracks are arranged in regular MP3 player-style categories - playlists, artists, albums, genres - and there's a video playback option too. Tracks can be downloaded over the air from mobile network operators' music stores, and it's straightforward to sideload tracks from a PC using the USB cable and Nokia PC Suite software supplied with the phone.
Alternatively, you can drag and drop tunes from a PC to the 5610's memory card using the USB link.
Bluetooth file transfer is another option, if less practical for multiple music files. The 5610 doesn't yet, however, support the full Nokia Music Store over-the-air download service although you can download tunes over the air via the onboard Download! application using the Jamster Music subscription service.
There's a slim amount of internal memory to store tracks - just 20MB in all - but MicroSD card support means you can swap cards with up to 4GB of storage capacity. Nokia boxes the 5610 XpressMusic with a 512MB or 1GB card to get you going.
Also included in the pack are a pair of stereo earphones, the Nokia Stereo Headset HS-45, with AD-56 in-line remote control.
This two-part headset plugs into the phone via the 5610's 2.5mm jack socket, while the audio remote control section has a 3.5mm socket, enabling you to easily upgrade the supplied earphones to better quality headphones.
The audio performance from the 5610 XpressMusic is really very impressive; there's a lovely balanced sound with plenty of bass, tonal depth and sufficient volume without distortion.
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