Real's Rhapsody is the number-one music subscription service in the United States, and we can see why: it's easy to use, it offers a fun and attractive way to discover new music, and it provides witty editorial content to go along with your listening experience. Version 4 aims to improve this experience even more with a fresh, updated interface and seamless integration with SanDisk's new Sansa e200R (yep, that R stands for Rhapsody). The changes are a success--the new Rhapsody is a friendlier option for newbies, yet the improvements are not so drastic as to alienate current users. Whichever category you fall into, Rhapsody 4 is an excellent choice for people interested in a digital music subscription service or just a music management jukebox. However, those looking for an all-inclusive media jukebox should look elsewhere.
Many of Rhapsody 4's features and interface aspects are carried over from version 3, so we recommend reading that review for a more in-depth take. Nonsubscribers can still download the app to use as a music manager and jukebox, and you'll get 25 free streams per month with this setup (with individual purchases costing 99 cents per track). The Rhapsody Unlimited subscription ($9.99/month) allows unlimited streaming and downloading from the 2.5-million song catalog, while Rhapsody To Go ($14.99) adds on transferring of these tracks to compatible portable devices. Subscribers get the added benefit of a 10 percent discount on songs (89 cents per track). Note that certain songs in the catalog are for purchase only (Radiohead and certain Metallica albums, for example), but anything that you can stream can also be transferred to your device.
Current Rhapsody users will instantly notice version 4's lightened-up look--we thought the black was rather nice, but the new silvery tones are easier on the eyes overall. Real also made some little changes to the playback bar at the top. The shuffle, repeat, and EQ buttons are now placed directly next to the playback controls in the upper left corner. And the song info area now shows the next track in the queue--a nice improvement. You still get some artist-related editorial tidbits rotating through on the right and a little album art, but it no longer magnifies when you click on it (bummer). Instead, it takes you to an album page. From the attractive artist page to the tucked-away status meter at the bottom of the page, the interface was thoughtfully revamped.
Several changes have been made to the main Rhapsody interface, though the general layout is the same: you have a split left-hand column and a central main window. You change what pops up in the center by navigating the options in the top portion of the left column. The first option is the Rhapsody Music Guide.
Within the Music Guide, there are several other tabs as well: What's New (currently a description/tutorial about what's new in version 4), a page called My Rhapsody that contains content personalized toward your preferences, and Playlist Central, where playlists created users and editors alike are compiled and navigable by several handy classifications (celebrity mixes, genres, themes, label spotlights, and so on). There's also a section called Channel Guide.