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By Patrick Avenell

Samsung last night joined the burgeoning music streaming cloud crowd with the official launch of Music Hub. An indirect rival to Sony’s Music Unlimited and a direct rival to JB Hi-Fi’s JB NOW, Music Hub offers Galaxy-branded smartphone and tablet consumers endless music on a subscription basis, as well as music videos for Samsung’s Smart TVs.

Determined to make a publicity splash with this announcement, Samsung booked Peter Murray, Faker and The Potbelleez to play at the launch event in Sydney. Significantly, these three artists represent different music labels, with Samsung keen to point out that EMI, Universal, Warner and — although something of a rival — Sony were on board.

Although the smartphone, web and tablet experience mirrors what Sony is offering, Samsung’s self-styled exclusive silver bullet is TV content. With a premium level subscription, Music Hub customers can access around 11,000 music videos on compatible Samsung internet-connected TVs. The videos are HD 720p, and cached to the TV, which prevents interminable buffering, according to Philip Newton, Samsung’s AV director.

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On smartphones and tablets, Music Hub delivers DRM-protected audio only, with streaming at 128kb/s. In time there will also be a purchasing option, with 320kbs MP3s available without DRM for around $2, according to EMI vice president, commercial development, Roddy Campbell.

The streamed audio can be cached in a Galaxy device, meaning repeat listens to do not need be re-streamed, minimising the strain on one’s 3G quota. Music Hub also works over Wi-Fi.

To get started with Music Hub, Galaxy smartphone and tablet users need to download the Music Hub app from Samsung Apps. Smart TV users can also download from Samsung Apps through their TV’s internet homepage.

There is a staggered release for Music Hub, with the Galaxy S II ready to go from 17 October 2011, followed by all other Galaxy smartphones and the Galaxy Tab 7 on 1 November 2011, and Samsung Smart TVs, home theatres and Blu-ray players from mid December 2011.

Existing Galaxy S II owners, and those who purchase this handset before the end of 2011, will receive a 2-month free Music Hub trial. All other new and existing Galaxy smartphones and tablets will receive a free 1-month trial.

There are two pricing levels: Mobile and Premium. On Mobile, users can access Music Hub on one tablet or smartphone device for $9.99 per month, $54.99 for six months or $99.99 for 12 months.

One Premium, Music Hub can be accessed on four compatible products and a web browser for $14.99 per month, $79.99 for six months or $149.99 for 12 months.