RealNetworks offers free digital jukebox

RealNetworks has announced the beta release of RealJukebox, a digital music system that lets users download music from the Internet, play the music on their PCs, and manage a music collection that can include music from the Net but also from other digital sources such as CDs.

RealJukebox is based on RealSystem MP -- an open digital-music platform that integrates a range of Internet music services and hardware devices. RealSystem MP supports AT&T Labs' A2B compression technology for secure digital downloading and copyright protection. A2B is one of many compression technologies currently vying for attention in the music-over-the-Internet arena.

RealJukebox also supports IBM's Electronic Music Management System (EMMS) and the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) framework, and includes mandatory Serial Copy Management System (SCMS) support.

A slew of other IT vendors and music providers -- including Amazon.com's music store, Liquid Audio, NewTechMusic, Audio Explosion and GoodNoise -- also announced support for RealJukebox.

With RealJukebox users can:

-- Play back music in several digital audio formats including MP3, RealAudio G2, WAV and legacy M3U.

-- Play music directly from a hard drive or portable device.

-- Listen to songs while recording them, or record them via silent record: RealJukebox can record music CD's at 3 to 5 times the speed of listening so that a 60-minute album can be recorded in 12 minutes, according to RealNetworks.

-- Record to several digital audio formats such as RealAudio G2 and MP3.

RealJukebox also has a 'Get Music' feature that gives users access Internet music search engines; free and purchased music downloads; online CD purchases and single click downloads of songs.

For organised music lovers, RealJukebox also has features for managing digital music collections. After inserting a CD into a connected CD player, RealJukebox's Internet-based CD database (CDDB) feature initiates an Internet lookup and categorisation of the music, the artist and the album title. Once CDDB identifies an album, the information is saved in a database so it appears each time a user inserts the CD.

Users can also create a list of music to play by dragging and dropping songs directly from a list of music files to the playlist which can be copied onto other portable hardware devices. RealJukebox also lets users sort music by a variety of categories: artist, song title, genre, type of file and so forth.

RealJukebox is compatible with MP3 digital players such as the Diamond Rio, RealNetworks said, and supports Flash and other solid state memory for other portable devices.

The beta release of RealJukebox is available immediately for free download from http://www.real.com/products/realjukebox/index.html. A fully functional version of RealJukebox will remain free after the product's final release.

An enhanced version of RealJukebox will offer features optimised for music enthusiasts later this year. RealJukebox will also be bundled with future releases of the RealPlayer.

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