RealNetworks has just announced that it will be spinning off its Rhapsody music service into a separate, independently-operated company that will be based in downtown Seattle. This move follows the departure of founder Rob Glaser as CEO of the company, and about 150 RealNetworks employees will make the transition over to the new Rhapsody. Rhapsody, a joint venture between RealNetworks and Viacom MTV Networks, will no longer see it’s majority stake held by Real, which currently has a 51 percent share. RealNetworks says this is a move that is focused on streamlining company operations. Interesting, to say the least, since as far as we’re concerned, Rhapsody is the most interesting and mainstream product that RealNetworks has to offer.
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Just a heads up to any of you who want to add the Sonos ZonePlayer S5 to your current Sonos setup, or those of you who want to jump into Sonos for the first time for the lowest cost possible - the S5 is now shipping, and can be had for $399. We have one set to arrive later today, so we will hit you with a review after we play with it a bit.
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Sonos is looking to market to the iPhone and iPod touch crowd with their new ZonePlayer S5 wireless music system. If you’re familiar with Sonos, you know that the price of entry has always been a bit high historically. The ZonePlayer S5 brings that price down to about $400. You plug it in to a router, and you are good to go with the ability to play your entire music library, as well as music from services like Rhapsody, Napster, Last.fm, and others, by using your iPhone as the remote control.
The price rises if you don’t have an Ethernet port handy for the S5, as you would then also need to buy a ZoneBridge, which allows you to connect the ZonePlayer S5 (as well as any other ZonePlayers you have) to your network wirelessly. We definitely think this is a positive step in the right direction for Sonos. By adding an all-on-one ZonePlayer/speaker to their line-up at this much lower price point, they’ve made it enticing to check them out to see what all the fuss is about. We’d pick up a ZonePlayer S5 over a Bose Sounddock any day of the week.
Read More | Sonos ZonePlayer S5 Demo
Tom Cullen of Sonos stopped by to give us a first-hand look at the new Sonos Controller 200 CR200 remote control. A marked improvement over the original Sonos Controller 100, the CR200 is a full touchscreen device that allows you to interact with music from a vast amount of sources and services, both on your network and from the Internet, with relative ease. We give you a look at how it all comes together in this episode.
You know that Slacker streaming radio service that we’re so fond of in these parts? Well, BlackBerry Storm owners will be able to start enjoying Slacker directly on their phones, starting today. Verizon Wireless is pushing the Slacker Radio app to BlackBerry Storm phones, and the app will connect to V CAST as well. If you are listening to a track that is also available on V CAST, you’ll see an icon come up that will let you purchase and download it instantly, without interrupting your flow. If you’re on a BlackBerry Storm, check it out.
Microsoft is definitely looking to bring it with the Zune in recent weeks. You just know that they have to have something, like the Zune HD, up their sleeves. I mean, they must have something going on, because all of a sudden they are getting bold with their advertising and claims. First came Wes Moss, their smarmy financial planner who explains why the Zune Pass is the best deal in music (even though it truly is.) Now, they’ve set up a section within the Zune Player itself that let’s you grab all the top songs from the top 100 offerings on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, and even File Sharing (how would they know)?
What do you think? What would it take to get you to consider Zune as a music service, if not as a device?
VIZIO is launching a new platform that they’re calling “Conneced HDTV,” and with it comes confirmation of the second Netflix direct-to-TV partnership. VIZIO’s Connected HDTV platform is designed to compliment traditional television viewing. You just connect the television to your home network, and if there’s nothing good on, you can go into Netflix, and I am sure there will be other services (YouTube? Hulu?) that you’ll be able to pull up as well. This is a trend we are definitely liking, let’s eliminate set-top boxes while providing more viewing options for the consumer.
EDIT: Okay, we just got more details on this. Aside from Netflix, the VIZIO Connected HDTV platform also brings Amazon Video on Demand, Pandora, Flickr, Blockbuster OnDemand, Rhapsody, Adobe Flash content, games from Accedo Broadband, and the Yahoo! widget engine. Very, very interesting!
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So this morning we gave you the scoop on the new Sonos 2.7 features, along with the news of the new (and free) Sonos Controller for iPhone and iPod touch, but we figured you’d be interested in seeing how all this worked. Luckily, Sonos CEO John MacFarlane was able to stop by to give us a first look at all the announcements. In this episode, John walks us through all the new hotness that Sonos announced this morning. That includes a walkthrough of the new iPhone app, which incorporates and supports all those slick new Sonos 2.7 features that we’ve been raving about so early in the morning over here. If you are a music fan, you owe it to yourself to look into Sonos, if you haven’t already.
Oh, and be sure to check our Sonos for iPhone gallery if you wanna see some screenshots of the app in high resolution.
We are big fans of Sonos here at Gear Live, which is why we are super excited about the new Sonos 2.7 update that is launching today. This one truly fits in with the whole goal of filling your home with music from anywhere on the planet. Let’s jump into this. The new update provides computer-free access to services like Last.fm, Pandora, and more than 15,000 radio stations from around the globe, all at no additional fee. If you subscribe to a subscription service like Napster, Rhapsody, or Sirius, they’ve got you covered there too. They’ll all stream directly to your Sonos system, with no need for a computer or server running in the background. That’s some slick stuff.
Even better, the Last.fm integration is fantastic. Every song you listen to through a subscription service, or your music library, is scrobbled and added to your Last.fm profile. A few other new features in Sonos System Software 2.7:
- Rhapsody now streams at 192 kbps MP3 as opposed to 128 kbps WMA
- RTSP streaming protocol now supported, allowing for greater Internet radio coverage
- Better language support
The update is free to all Sonos owners.
MTV Networks’ URGE and RealNetworks’ Rhapsody have announced that they will be combining forces to try to compete with iTunes. Naming the venture Rhapsody America, it will be accessible to computers, PMPs, and Verizon Wireless’ VCast. Beginning this September, MTV will push the new service and provide music playlists as well as other programming. Michael Bloom, former GM of URGE, will be in charge and said that for now, URGE customers can use both services. There is no word yet on how much Rhapsody America will cost its subscribers.
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