MANILA, DECEMBER 24, 2007 (STAR) By Kathy Moran - Music to call by — this must be the stuff that cellphone companies are made of. At least this is what gets the young excited when it comes to the latest cellphone gadgets.

I should know. I have rocked — okay, not rocked, just tapped my feet — to the Nokia beat over the last quarter of this year.

Nokia knows that music brings Pinoys together. Actually, any reason to party brings Pinoys together. Party-loving Pinoys took center stage as electronica aficionados trooped to A.Venue Hall in Makati to watch as Nokia, together with the first Filipino DJ group Local//:e!, launched its newest music player, the Nokia 5310 Xpressmusic.

The event was also the launching pad for Local//:e’s second compilation, which features collaborations between DJs and established and up-and-coming rock artists. The CD has contributions from electronica stalwarts like Adrian Cuenca, Brian Cua and Rubber Inc. as well as musicians like violinist Jay Cayuca, world music exponent Joey Ayala and legendary blues guitarist Jun Lopito. It also includes a contribution by indie rocker Diego Mapa, working under the moniker Eggboy. Like Nokia, Local//:e! is all about making connections.

“We are proud to have partnered with an amazing and talented group of musicians for the launch of our new music product, the Nokia 5310 Xpressmusic,” says William Hamilton-Whyte, Nokia Philippines general manager. “Nokia has been the pioneering force behind mobile music technology. Now with the Nokia 5310 Xpressmusic, we continue Nokia’s vision of being able to share music across all genres and music preferences.”

The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic is a mobile music player like no other. Offering up to 18 hours of music playback, it has dedicated music keys to conveniently play back tracks and browse album art. With an in-box 1GB microSD card expandable up to 4GB, it also has memory for up to 3,000 songs of any format. The drag-and-drop feature also makes synchronizing to your computer very easy. Big on music, it’s also remarkable for being small in size.

The event featured stunning live performances by Local://e DJs as they mixed and played tracks from their new CD compilation.

Seen partying at the launch were the Nokia team led by Nokia Philippines general manager William Hamilton-Whyte accompanied by Angelique Repapis, Nokia corporate communications manager Nikka Abes, Nokia product manager Corinne Risos, marketing head Sandeep Khanna, marketing manager Mitch So, product marketing head Rhomel Marcojos, Robby Carmona, Jenni Epperson, Marie Claire’s Myrza Sison, Bridges@Com’s Toni Gregory, Annie Ringor, and Alexei Villaraza, Nikki Gil, Philippine Tatler’s Anton San Diego, Globe’s Leah de Guzman, Kat Alano, Town and Country’s Mia Borromeo, Karen Santos, Rico Blanco, Kiko Escora, Gian Romano, Sarah Meyer, Edwin Edralin, Tanya Escaler, Borgy Manotoc, MTV VJ Sib with MTV’s Patrick Pacla, and Young STAR columnist Erwin Romulo.

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And, just before this year comes to a close Nokia surprised us with a few more releases — three cellphones that had techies and cellphone lovers drooling and dipping deep into their cash stash.

There is the Nokia 5610 Xpress Music phone, a slide cellphone which is lovely to look at and lovelier to hold. An extraordinary mobile phone, the Nokia 5610 XpressMusic will make a big dent in the music-fickle and very competitive cellphone market.

The Nokia 5610 XpressMusic comes with a nifty little camera of 3.2 megapixels, featuring Flash, 8X Zoom, Auto-Focus, Video Recorder and Video Calling. The phone is equipped with a 900 mAh Li-Ion battery, enough to talk for about six hours, with a standby mode of about 320 hours. Its engineers included a 20 MB memory, enough for regular use! An interesting option of the Nokia 5610 XpressMusic is the speakerphone, which is very useful while driving.

Nokia has designed its 5610 XpressMusic with a 64-chord ringtone ringer, making it a great phone for those among you who love creating ringtones. If you like skinnable phones you’ll love that the 5610 XpressMusic has customizable themes, too.

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The other two Nokia hotties this cool December are the Nokia N81 8 GB and the Nokia N95 8 GB.

Nokia’s newest Nseries device, the N81 8GB, is an update on the N91, one of the first smart phones to have 8GB of internal storage capacity. This slider is also one of the initial handsets to support the upcoming N-Gage platform. Pitched as a music phone, with its dedicated playback keys and whopping 8GB of internal storage, the Nokia N81 8GB weighs 140g and measures 102mm x 50mm x 17.8mm. The N81 8GB fits nicely in one hand, with all buttons in range of your thumb for easy use.

The front of the Nokia N81 features the front-facing VGA camera for video calls when supported by the network. The display features a generous 2.4-inch, 16.7-million color screen with 240 x 320 pixel resolution. This display is really cool as it allowed me to get a good look (bad eyes included) of the many features and photos. But, under the glare of the Pinoy sun, the screen display was a tad off and not as clear as I wanted it to be.

The screen is flush mounted with the front of the phone, which prevents gunk from building up in the corners, and makes keeping it clean a simpler task.

The bottom third of the front of the N81 is occupied by the key cluster. The left and right soft keys are located at the top, with the S60 menu key and “C” button directly below. The end and send keys have been moved to the side edges, flanking the D-pad. Surrounding the D-pad are the four dedicated music playback buttons. These music buttons are active in all menus of the phone, allowing you to easily control the music no matter what screen you are currently in. There is a small horizontal silver button to the right of the d-pad that serves as the Multimedia Key. Pressing this key once will take you to Nokia’s new carousel multimedia menu, while long-pressing it will take you directly to the music player. At the top of the front face there are also two keys that are only used for gaming and for zooming when viewing photos. Sliding the front face up reveals the numeric keypad, which is a single membrane separated horizontally into four rows.

The back of the device houses the 2-megapixel camera with flash. The entire back plate of the phone can be removed to reveal the 1050mAh battery and SIM card tray.

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And then there is the Nokia N95 8GB. I was fortunate enough to get hold of the N95 8GB. It is the same reliable Nokia N95 with a lot more internal memory to boot. When the Nokia N95 was launched earlier this year it came with a one gig Mini SD. The new N95 gets rid of the mini SD and is loaded with an internal memory of 8GB.

Fun from the start, the N95 8GB still keeps the same look and feel of its predecessor, except that the 8GB version feels a little more solid when it is held.

There is the 5-megapixel camera and lots more room for music to be stored. The N95 8GB is a leader in its class. After all, in spite of all the stuff this beauty is loaded with, Nokia makes sure that everything that we have come to love in the Nokia cellphone remains in any cellphone they launch.

Really, something new, something bigger — but definitely something familiar and easy to use.

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On the 10th day of Christmas (that’s today), my true love gave to me… 10 loud ringtones… 9 dancing videos… 8 Nokia 5310s… 7 pics of swimming… 6 cheesy themes… 5 golden ringbacks…

Fa la la la la la…

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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