At A Glance
Awesome integration with Rhapsodys subscription music service; built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
No support for lossless codecs.
When talk turns to digital media players, Apple’s iPod and Microsoft’s second-generation Zune (with its third-gen firmware) dominate the conversation. But if you’re a Rhapsody-to-Go subscriber ($15 per month), there’s only one media player you should consider: Haier’s Rhapsody Ibiza.
The Ibiza is available in three configurations: flash memory models with 4GB and 8GB capacities (priced at $200 and $230, respectively) and the 30GB hard-drive model ($300) reviewed here. All three play videos and display digital photos as well as play music; they also support Bluetooth headphones.
The Ibiza can connect to 802.11g Wi-Fi networks, which means you can stream and download songs from Rhapsody (and listen to Rhapsody’s Internet radio channels) without plugging the player into your PC. Synchronizing the Ibiza to your PC, on the other hand, requires a hard-wired connection.
This device leverages everything that we like about the Rhapsody service. If you’re online while listening to a song, for instance, a menu displayed next to the album art gives you the choice of downloading the track (or the entire album) to the player, purchasing and downloading the song or album to the player, sampling other tracks from the album, or calling up a biography of the artist. Choose “more by this artist” and the player will open a submenu with choices that include an artist sampler, a list of all the albums the artist has recorded, a “top tracks” list, and a list of similar artists.
The Ibiza’s software is excellent—in stark contrast to Rhapsody’s absolutely dreadful PC software—but we do have one complaint: Drill deep down into its nested menus and the only way to get back to the home screen is to repeatedly stab the back button.
“Tethered” tracks, of course, remain available only as long as you maintain your subscription, but we’re disappointed that the player doesn’t inform you whether the tracks you purchase are infested with DRM (Rhapsody sells both encrypted and DRM-free tracks).
The Ibiza is close to being the perfect portable companion for Rhapsody customers, but there’s very little to recommend to folks outside that circle. Its total lack of support for lossless audio codecs, meanwhile, is a major disappointment.