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Linksys, Real take digital tunes to the living room

The Wi-Fi equipment maker teams up with RealNetworks to offer Rhapsody subscribers the ability to shuttle music from a PC or other storage device to a home stereo.

Wi-Fi equipment maker Linksys has teamed up with RealNetworks to offer customers the ability to shuttle music from a PC or other storage device to a home stereo.

The companies announced Wednesday that subscribers of Real's Rhapsody music subscription service can use an audio component, called Linksys Media Link for Music, to access their online music from a stereo. The component uses the 802.11b wireless networking standard.

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Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, will offer a free three-month trial of Real's Rhapsody Radio Plus service, which normally costs $4.95 per month, with the purchase of its Media Link for Music or the Linksys Wireless-B Music System, a standalone device with speakers that can be used as a portable boombox.

Rhapsody Radio Plus offers 50 professionally programmed stations. It also lets music buffs create their own customized Internet radio stations with music from their favorite artists, allowing users to skip songs they don't like.

Subscribers can browse their Rhapsody library by artist, album or song title and will have access to hundreds of global Internet Radio stations and music streaming services, the companies said.

For $9.95 per month, Linksys customers have the option to upgrade to a Rhapsody "All Access" subscription, which gives customers unlimited streaming access to a library of more than 650,000 songs. Subscribers can purchase the songs for 79 cents each.

Linksys' Media Link for Music costs $149.99, and the Wireless-B Music System starts at $30.