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Saturday June 26, 2004 7:00 am

REVIEW: RealPlayer Music Store

Posted by Andru Edwards Categories: Music, Product Reviews, Software

If for some reason you are all iTunes'ed out, or are looking for (legal!) higher quality music downloads, you may want to give the RealPlayer Music Store a try. We took Real's Download service to task, and are back with our report.

  • Costs: 99 cents USD per track, US$9.99 for most albums.
    400,000 tracks available for download.
  • Users can access content on up to three different computers at one time.
  • Purchased content can be burned or transferred to supported devices an unlimited number of times.
  • Playlists containing purchased music can be burned up to five times. Modify playlist to burn more.
  • RealPlayer Music Store is only available within the RealPlayer X application.

The RealPlayer has never been one of the well liked media players of the Internet. Windows Media Player, QuickTime, and DiVx player have all garnered more fanfare. More than likely it is because of the lower quality real audio and real video formats.

Don't let previous impressions fool you in regards to the RealPlayer Music Store. Real went all out as far as their downloads go, offering you the highest quality music files available. At 192 kbps AAC, you should not be able to tell the difference between these files and those found on a retail compact disc. I say kudos to Real for getting that part right.

The downside is that the RealPlayer Music Store doesn't do so well in all other areas. First of all, it only offers about 400,000 tracks for download - that is about 100,000 less than it's main competition. They also offer exclusive downloads not available on any other service, but they are from artists you have more than likely never heard of (and thus wouldn't want to pay for).

The jukebox does have a lot of nice features. It is the only other major application that will synch purchased music to your iPod, so this is your iTunes alternative. It also keeps track of and organizes all other digital media on your PC including music and video files.
I believe once RealPlayer Music Store gets more artists and tracks on board, it may become a major player in the digital music downloads race.

  • Features the highest quality audio downloads, at 192 kbps AAC.
  • RealPlayer can keep track of all digital media on your PC.
  • Downloads can be used on up to three PC's at one time.

  • Exclusive tracks are mostly from unknown artists.
  • Interface is not as user friendly as other download applications.
  • Library of music available is significantly less than its competition.

For those looking for high quality AAC downloads, this is the application to use. Unfortunately, you won't find as large a selection as you would using other services. RealPlayer's entrance into the music downloading arena is a valiant effort, but there is still much to be desired.

FINAL SCORE: 7 out of 10

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