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Don’t cross the Beamz

The beamz Music Performance SystemI’m as keen as anyone on the goal of making music creation more approachable. If anything, Guitar Hero and Rock Band have showed the market potential of enshrouding the air guitarist in the delusion of talent. But this apparent holy grail hasn’t seemed to result in anything as effective as the kazoo.

I thought the now-discontinued Mad Waves device had potential even though it succumbed to the same Curse of CES that Moxi did. I even enjoyed Zoundz, the RFID-based interactive music toy with the funky plastic tokens that The Sharper Image offered a few years ago. That was a marginally amusing toy for less than $50, but now the ailing retailer has gone high-end with it using a “laser harp” called Beamz.

Beamz has six lasers that play different sample riffs when you break their beams using your hand or other object. The result is that you look like you’re faking primitive martial arts while you’re faking playing music, which doesn’t at all make you look like a dork. Obviously, Beamz won’t let you play real songs or compositions, just kind of jam along with samples and riffs It also hooks up to a PC to load different instrument sets for musical genres such as classical and metal..

Harmless enough, but the thing is huge, ungainly and expensive. My two favorite parts of the Popular Mechanics video review featured on The Sharper Image’s site are when reviewer Seth Porges notes that it “probably looks a lot cooler if you have a fog machine” and “if you’re just looking to fool around or impress your friends, it’s good fun” right before noting the $600 price tag. If you’re thinking this thing will impress your friends, you’ll have a lot more good fun getting new friends.


  1. Megan Megan June 4, 2008

    UPDATE: The beamz now sells for $499.95 as is available for purchase through the company Web site: You can download new songs from there as well.

  2. Dave Dave June 6, 2008

    UPDATE: This gadget will impress noone! Upwards of $500 for this? Is it a coincidence that this thing emerged right as SHarper Image went belly-up?

  3. Jordan Jordan June 8, 2008

    Thanks, Megan, but come on… You’re still talking about a pretty worthless invention attached to a $500 price tag. I’m sorry, this Beamz is offensive to me, both as an American and a musician. Can you believe that someone is trying to market this thing for such a price when we’re in the middle of a recession (if not a full blown depression)? Secondly, maybe not everyone is meant to be a musician. Ever think of that? This doesn’t even make anyone a musician. Can you actually WRITE a song on it? I guess so, if the process of songwriting can be reduced to triggering some cheesy MIDI presets.

  4. Ross Rubin Ross Rubin June 12, 2008

    @Jordan, I can see how Beamz could be a fun diversion even if it isn’t a real musical instrument that lets you play real songs. I’d also like to see the system’s size reduced as well as its cost. Why is it so large? Maybe a version that you could trigger with your fingers instead of karate chops would be more palatable.

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