My newest toy 

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I originally intended to make this week's column a roundup of reviews of Microsoft's new tablets and operating system, but every single publication in the world has done something similar and I'd rather wait a little while to see how things are really going — first impressions being wrong a lot of the time. I've already purchased and installed Windows 8 on my now three-year-old laptop and I'll be picking up my Windows 8 phone — only available at Rogers at launch — in the next few weeks, and I'll let you know how that goes.

I also didn't feel like writing about the new smaller iPad or iPad 4 announcement, or the new 13-inch MacBook or slimmer iMacs, all of which, in my mind, are extremely cool but ludicrously overpriced. (Before you buy the iPad mini, I'd seriously consider looking at the competition because there are mini tablets with better screens, more storage and other features for over $100 less — and that's all I'm going to say on the subject.)

The truth is, it's hard to care about all this new technology when I'm holding what may be the greatest innovation of all time in my hands — a toy so mind-bendingly awesome, and so fun to play with that I lose sleep when I think about it.

Who needs Windows 8 when you have the You Rock Guitar (Gen II) — a MIDI-guitar that debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas back in 2010, and has been blowing minds for two years now. They're hard to find and production runs tend to sell out quickly, so fast that they haven't had the time to make it into most music stores. They're rare for a reason...

At first, it may look like a hunk of plastic to the average person, a gussied up Guitar Hero controller, but it's so much more than that. There are no "strings" on the fret board, just raised bumps where the strings should be.

There are strings where you pick and strum, as well as a few buttons, a volume knob, a whammy bar and a little analog "modulation" joystick that functions as a pedal or modulation wheel on a traditional keyboard. There are a variety of ways to connect your guitar as well, including a MIDI Out port, a USB port, a quarter-inch guitar cable port, a 3.5mm Audio Out port and a 3.5 mm Audio In port. You can power the guitar using four AA batteries or using the USB.

Those fake strings can't bend or slide, but if you use the whammy and joystick just right, or the "Slide" button effectively, you can replicate those sounds pretty easily.


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