Ars was in New York City Tuesday night for the Rhapsody launch from TiVo, where we were able to get a brief hands-on with the duo's latest music service offering, as well as listen-in on a live performance by "Fountains of Wayne," who decided to sing "Stacy's Mom" in a room full of suits.
First things first. The Rhapsody service is simply an add-on to your existing TiVo box, sothere's a very easy learning curve and there's no need for a separate remote. In that sense, it's perfect for anyone who has no idea how to setup their home network to bring their music down to the living room TV. Think of it as a similar service to the Apple TV, but limited to music, and requiring no additional set-top box. Of course, movies are already available on TiVo through Amazon's movie service. If your TiVo is equipped with a broadband connection, you can also access any of your other Rhapsody music stored on your PC.
The interface is easy to use, and has a few nice search features. You can search by artist or genre, and Rhapsody will also recommend artists that fit your listening tastes. There's also an internet radio feature which offers a variety of different music genres.
Rhapsody is free for 30 days to current TiVo subscribers, but after the trial is up, it will cost users an additional $12.99 a month.
The Rhapsody service reminds me a lot of Microsoft's Zune Marketplace, which also offers a subscription for unlimited music downloads. While most tech-savvy users would probably prefer to setup a home theater PC with access to all of their media content, or even use a Microsoft Windows Media extender option, the TiVo/Rhapsody music option is a perfect fit for less knowledgeable, but still media-crazy users.
My only gripe? TiVo told us last night that it's fun explore the artist list looking for hard-to-find musicians. I did just that and found that, as is also the case with iTunes and the Zune Marketplace, some albums from Bob Seger are unavailable.
To try the service out on your own TiVo, click “Music, Photos, Products & More,” from the TiVo central menu, then click on “Rhapsody Music Service,”. Finish up with a salsa or boot-scoot boogie of your choosing.