The music lover's jukebox

Rhapsody is a music management program that offers the added bonus of a streaming service and store.

Over the years, Rhapsody has morphed from a standard music jukebox app into something that places more emphasis on music enjoyment and discovery rather than music management and organization. In order to get the full experience, however, you'll still need to download the installation app, which isn't exactly light at 18MB. (And keep in mind the software itself requires a total of 380MB of space.) On the plus side, install and setup is much smoother than in past versions, with plenty of check-box options for customizing the experience to your liking.

Upon firing up Rhapsody for the first time, one thing is immediately apparent: the program wants you to subscribe to the accompanying service, which at a minimum, costs $9.99 (and $14.99 if you want to take music "to go" on compatible devices such as the Sony Walkman). However, this is not a requirement, and if you stick with Rhapsody Free, which provides all the basic jukebox functionality as well as access to the MP3 store, you will get to enjoy 25 full audio streams from the catalog for free each month. This is a nice bonus that is not offered with competitors such as iTunes and Windows Media Player.

The Rhapsody interface is very straightforward, with the various available music sources called out in the upper right: Music Guide (which takes you into the store area), My Library, My Channels (Rhapsody's version of Internet radio stations), Burn a CD, and attached devices (if applicable). The library section is sortable via artists, albums, and genres, with columns displaying the aforementioned info as well as the track name, track type, and rating. Double-clicking any song will start playback, which is managed via a bar that spans the top of the window and displays album art as well as interesting tidbits about the artist.

Playlists live in a special tabbed area in the lower left and are very simple to create and manage; you can add tracks by dragging and dropping. This method also works for transferring songs, albums, and artists to an attached device. All in all, the experience is smooth, although there can be some hang-ups during transferring, especially if you subscribe to the To Go service and are transferring those tracks from the catalog. We also noticed that the app takes up a huge amount of processor power and can slow down overall system use at times.

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