Real’s Rhapsody is the easiest way to download and discover music. You can download tracks onto your computer, open your Rhapsody service on any computer to listen to your playlists, channels to help you discover new similar music, sync your songs and channels onto your portable music player, and all at one flat rate without having to pay per song. The latest version released is version 4.0 which adds a lot of features and friendlier options however introduce a lot of new bugs and problems that make it sometimes difficult to use.
The service began in 2002 under Listen.com and eventually is owned by RealNetworks now. Real’s service is easy to use and is one of the few services that let you subscribe to music and listen to it on your portable music players. It comes under three variations. There is Rhapsody To Go which costs $14.99 a month allowing you to play your music on portable players, Rhapsody Unlimited which only allows you to listen to your music online and on your authorized computers, and the free Rhapsody 25 where you can listen to online radio stations and get 25 on-demand streams per month. Today there are over 2.5 million songs you can listen to on Rhapsody. Along with these subscription services you can also pay about a dollar to download individual tracks the same way you do on iTunes. Having a paid subscription also entitles you to a 10% discount off purchasing your own tracks.
The new version 4 has a silver look to it as a change from the black from version 3. The top of the program is your player with the standard play/stop and etc along with the shuffle, repeat, and EQ buttons, the left navigation menus and quick playlist, and the right which is the main display.
From the main page you can browse different music genres, listen to exclusives, see what’s new, what’s popular, search for songs, and etc. There is also a page My Rhapsody where you can personalize your preferences and view playlists created by users and editors. There is also the Channel Guide where there are over 100 programmed stations you can save to your computer, library, and portable music player. This way instead of searching for every song for your player you can just pick a channel, drag it to your portable music player, and it will download songs from that channel with ease. This is a great way to explore new music and quickly download what you want.
This new version makes it a lot easier to download songs. You can simply drag the song from anywhere into the navigation menu on the left to your Library, Playlist, and portable music device. In the old version 3 you had to download the tracks to your computer then transfer them over. This new ability makes things a lot more intuitive and much less complicated then the previous version 3. Everything is completely streamlined so when you plug in your portable music player it pops up in your navigation so it’s ready for the easy drag and drop transferring of music.
The Rhapsody player doesn’t really work with your iPod. When you add your tracks to the library, it will also import your iTunes libraries and playlists. If you purchased the song in iTunes it will show up in the Rhapsody playlist as a streamed track. It wont however work with the Rhapsody To Go subscription or individual tracks that you purchased on Rhapsody. Overall you really need to buy a portable music player on their compatibility list and ever better one that has Rhapsody on the box.
All of Real Rhapsody’s music uses DNA, by Helix, which is a special DRM that protect the music from being stolen. They switched to this instead of the Microsoft DRM because it hasn’t met expectations. Because of this switch many users have problems transferring songs to their player. Users often have to format and reauthorize their devices before getting their portable music player to work with the new version 4.
There are tons of errors and many users like myself who had problems with this new version and their portable music player. Calling customer support left me in a lot of frustration. Their Level 1 technical support simply asked me to de-authorized and re-authorize my device over and over. A lot of problems is the player isn’t set to handle the new DNA protection of the Rhapsody 4 downloads. The problem most users will have is implementing the last thing on their long list of things to try to fix your music authorization problem is “updating Helix components.” You will need to update your firmware on the device.
Once you get over these authorization problems things start to work smoothly. However getting through this problem will take a long time dealing with customer support, formatting, authorizing, and the long slew of things customer support, internet guides, and friends will suggest you try. I spent over way to many hours on this problem and simply gave up on one of my devices.
The service itself is wonderful however you may find a lot of “annoyances” with the program. This program is really the front end to the subscription service and not a very good music manager. You’ll have little frustrations like deleting a song off a playlist and it automatically move the first item on the list and have to move all the way back to where you were. Not a problem but an annoyance.
In this new version they updated you with a warning of when your subscription music on your portable music devices is going to expire. Now you’re notified before you need to reconnect your device to sync the subscription on the computer and the devices.
Gone are the days of using the old school Napster where you could easily search and download songs for free. Today Real’s Rhapsody service has made better and more convenient at a very reasonable rate. Overall you’ll have some glitches and problems being a new version with new music protection. With the huge source of music available on Rhapsody, the ease of the Rhapsody To Go service for moving music to your portable music player, and the flat rate for all of this make it a definite buy for any music phanatic. Rhapsody along with a portable music player on their list like the iriver clix are a great gift that makes downloading and carrying around music anywhere easy, of course after the initial authorization problems which will soon fade away.
You can learn more about the Real Rhapsody’s subscription services and try out their software along with the free subscription or a trial the paid ones at www. Rhapsody.com. You can also find our iriver clix Rhapsody review here that integrates with the Rhapsody To Go subscription.