Add Rhapsody to TiVo's bag of broadband media tricks. Real Networks' music subscription service is available as of today to users of TiVo's standalone Series2 and Series3 DVRs. The integration makes good on an announcement by the two companies back at January's Consumer Electronics Show. Rhapsody joins a host of other broadband offerings on TiVo's DVRs, including Amazon Unbox videos, Live 365 streaming radio, podcast downloads, Yahoo photos/traffic/weather, and customized TiVoCast video downloads. (Note: CNET is a content provider for TiVoCast.)
Existing Rhapsody subscribers should have no trouble getting access to their music collection, which can include anything from customized streaming Internet radio stations to personalized playlists drawn from the millions of tracks available on Rhapsody's service. The service costs $13 a month--above and beyond TiVo's monthly fee--but it can also be accessed on other devices, such as any networked PC, the Sonos Digital Music System, or the Logitech Squeezebox. Upgrade to the Rhapsody To Go plan (an additional $2 per month), and you can transfer songs--from a PC, not the TiVo--to compatible portable players such as the SanDisk Sansa e200R series for listening outside the home.
While the availability of Rhapsody is another nice arrow in TiVo's media quiver, in and of itself, it's probably not the sort of make-or-break feature that's going to boost sales of the DVR. On the other hand, existing and prospective Series3 and TiVo HD owners will be happy to know that TiVo has confirmed that the Multi-Room Viewing (transfer recorded shows to other TiVo DVRs in the home) and TiVo To Go (transfer recorded shows to networked PCs and portable media devices) features are scheduled to be added to those high-def models next month. To date, both features have been limited to standard-def Series2 models only.
A final note for TiVo owners: The Rhapsody service is available on the DVR for a 30-day free trial, so you can try before you subscribe. In order to gain access to the Rhapsody function, you'll need the latest 9.1 software update. If you don't already have it, head over to TiVo's Web site to prioritize the upgrade.