Goofy Gadgets Stand Out at Las Vegas Tech Show

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It probably goes without saying that no one actually needs a dancing MP3 player or a music-playing Taser holster or a drink cooler that can be ridden like a scooter.

But some vendors at the International Consumer Electronics Show are betting that people will actually want these things.

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Alongside gadgets representing the highest of high technology, CES this week showcased a great collection of offbeat items.

Some might even turn out to be blockbusters. Others, if they're lucky, will nestle into an ignored corner of the SkyMall catalog.


Sony Corp.'s Rolly is something that could only come out of Japan, where cuteness is a cult.

The Rolly is an MP3 player the size and shape of a turkey egg. It rolls and spins around on the floor and blasts music out of two built-in stereo speakers, while flapping two speaker lids like it's a cancan dancer with folding fans. Pulsing multicolored diodes complete the sensory experience.

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The Rolly was released in Japan in September, and Sony announced at CES that it would sell it in the U.S. It didn't reveal the price — it costs about $350 in Japan.

The Rolly will improvise moves based on the music, but users can override that and choreograph their own steps on a PC, then transfer them to the device. The Japanese have Rolly dance-offs, according to Sony's Paul Digiovanna.

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The Rolly has 2 gigabytes of flash memory and the rechargeable battery will keep it jamming for five hours straight.

Recommended listening: Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," Beastie Boys' "Egg Man."


At Taser International Inc.'s booth, it was easy to forget that the company sells a weapon.

The company featured an abundance of femininity. Four Playboy Playmates signed autographs. Then there were new stun gun models in "Fashion Pink" and a leopard print scheme. The leopard one costs $379, while regular Tasers cost $349.

A fitting accessory for the leopard-print Taser is the music player holster, which clips a Taser to a belt and plays digital music.

Recommended listening: Aerosmith's "Lightning Strikes" and, of course, any number of "Don't Tase Me, Bro!" remixes.


Gibson Guitar Corp.'s Robot Guitar is not a guitar for robots. Nor is it a guitar that plays itself. Why let robots have all the fun?

Like a good robot, the Robot Guitar takes care of the boring part of being a guitarist: the tuning.

Tiny motors are connected to a guitar's tuning screws. Pull out a master control knob, strum the strings, and the screws start turning themselves. In seconds, the guitar is in tune. It's also easy to switch between tunings.

A rechargeable battery in the body is good for 250 tunings, according to Gibson's Aljon Go.

The guitar, "manufactured by human hands in Nashville, Tenn.," lists for $2,499. Retrofit kits will be available for older Gibson guitars.

Recommended listening: Daft Punk's "Robot Rock" and The Beatles' "While My (Non-robotic) Guitar Gently Weeps."


CES exhibitors love combinations, which is why there are MP3 players in everything. Liquid Image LLC found a new place to stash a camera: a swimming mask.

It can take video or still images; it's $99 for the 5-megapixel version and $79 for 3.1 megapixels.

Underwater cameras have existed before, but swimmers have had to hold them. Liquid Image squeezed its camera into the mask by skipping the viewfinder. The two buttons for operating the camera are just above the eyepiece on the right.

It's not yet rugged enough to go deep with scuba divers, though: Liquid Image recommends going no more than 16 feet under water.


Filip Ivanovski believes people shooting hoops in the driveway or playing football in the park have two main needs: to listen to music and to keep score.

So the Canadian developed the $199 Versus Scoreboard, which looks like a small stadium scoreboard, showing points, period and time remaining, on top of a MP3-playing boombox.

Big buttons make it easy for players to run over and quickly adjust the score.


What's the point of relaxing at the lake or campground if you get sore lugging a packed cooler of drinks? That's where the $499 Cruzin Cooler comes in.

"It's the world's first motorized, rideable ice chest," said Charles Pennington, director of national retail accounts for Cruzin Cooler LLC.

The Cruzin Cooler comes with a padded seat for the rider and an electric or gas motor.

It can hold 27 12-ounce cans, but you can pack more in a $149 trailer cooler that hooks onto the motorized lead cooler. You supply your own ice.

An ice chest/scooter looked totally out of place at the electronics show. But Pennington noted that the product actually is ridiculous in any setting — which is why people want it. The company has sold 40,000, he said.

Two of the coolers' specs caught our attention. One is that the driver can weigh up to 300 pounds. The other is how fast the Cruzin Cooler can cruise.

"Fourteen miles per hour," Pennington said. "Which is haulin' ass on an ice chest."