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Getting Hip To Music, Using Laser Beams

Kelli B. Grant

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Consumers who never learned to play a musical instrument — well, or at all — can now fake it.

The new Beamz interactive music system plays the melody line of songs in its library, letting the user add in complementary beats, vocals and instrumental riffs by moving his or her hands through its laser beams.

A spokeswoman says the $199 device is meant to appeal to “the Guitar Hero” set, as well as wannabe deejays (although mixing your own tunes requires additional equipment). “You can’t really sound bad on this,” she says. The USB-powered device comes with software and 50 songs; others in the 200-plus song library cost $0.99 to $1.99 each.

But this is one area where Apple fans will be behind the curve: Beamz requires a PC to operate. A Mac version is currently in development.

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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.