RealNetworks on Thursday introdued Rhapsody 4.0, a new version of its digital music service — a competitor to Apple’s iTunes. The software features a new interface and support for Rhapsody-optimized MP3 players such as SanDisk’s e200R.
Rhapsody, available for Windows PCs, features a 2.5 million song library comprising major and independent labels, which are available for playback on the service and through compatible portable devices for a $14.99 monthly subscription fee. Users can also purchase songs and albums if they wish. RealNetworks has developed technology for Rhapsody that enables it to transfer purchased music to any digital music player while retaining Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology, including Apple’s iPod.
New to the 4.0 release is a dramatically overhauled interface that may remind some users superficially of Apple’s own iTunes software — the interface features an playlist window on the left and rounded buttons that look “Aqua”-like.
Other features new to this release are Rhapsody Channels, which provide music streams based on genre, artist or user’s tastes. Rhapsody Channels can be transferred to portable players as well.
A drag and drop interface now lets users transfer music more easily to portable devices, and Dynamic Playlists automatically track top artists, albums and songs in your favorite genre. Rhapsody cn also import music libraries, and can include libraries from other music services. And Rhapsody Premieres is a new service that gives subscribers access to new albums before they’re available in stores.
The Sansa e200R is a special edition of SanDisk’s flash-based music player, available in 2GB – 8GB capacities, that features a large color LCD display. The e200R has been especially developed to support Rhapsody’s new features.
What’s more, Rhapsody 4.0 introduces support for the Sonos 2.0 Digital Music System, a household digital audio system that works with wireless receivers and speakers.