Matthew Moskovciak over at CNET Networks has reviewed the recent release of Real Networks Rhapsody service on TiVo. He’s an existing Rhapsody subscriber, so he was able to review it from the point of view of an established user trying the service via a new platform and interface. I think that’s interesting because I feel that’s the most likely audience for this service. I don’t expect a lot of people to jump onto Rhapsody just because it is available on TiVo now. But I do see this as a value-add for Rhapsody users. Sure, some people will sign up because the added value will tip the scales for them, but I don’t see this as a big subscription driver for either camp – except as fodder for marketing. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried the service and it works fine and I think it is a nice addition. But I use an iPod and iTunes, not compatible with Rhapsody. And I have Sirius Satellite in my car – which also allows me to stream music online. Between those two, I don’t really need another music service.)
Matthew did run into some glitches while trying out the service, and was disappointed in a few things, but overall it was a positive review. And this is a ’1.0′ release, so we will probably see improvements in future updates, and tweaks based on user feedback.
Despite all these gripes, Rhapsody on TiVo shows a lot lot of promise. When it was working smoothly, it was great to extend the Rhapsody experience to my living room and the service certainly has the TiVo “touch.” While Apple TV is great for bringing your purchased iTunes music collection to your home theater, Rhapsody on TiVo effectively brings millions of songs to your home theater. I’m definitely not ready to give it my full recommendation–it’s much too glitchy in its current state–but if TiVo and Rhapsody can smooth the kinks out, they might have a killer service on their hands.
I’ll also note that it is quite possible to stream music from your iTunes collection via your TiVo – I do it. Unprotected MP3 files are, of course, no problem. But even unprotected AAC (and other formats) can be streamed with Dan203′s TiVo Desktop plug-in on Windows, or using LAME with TiVo Desktop on Mac. And if you have protected AAC (m4p) files purchased from ITMS – that’s what QTFairUse6 and myFairTunes7 are for. (I absolutely do not condone piracy. But I do condone fair use for media you’ve purchased. I’m all for stripping DRM, just don’t trade those files.)