June 20, 2008 / 12:27 PM / 11 years ago

Portable karaoke machine for singing on the fly

Japanese toymaker Takara Tomy's personal karaoke machine "Hi-kara" is demonstrated at International Tokyo Toy Show in Tokyo June 19, 2008. The product, which the company claims is one of the world's smallest karaoke machine, is equipped with a 2.4-inch LCD display, headphone and a microphone and will go on sale in Japan on October 18 with a price tag of 10,500 yen. ($97) REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

TOKYO (Reuters) - Love to sing? A Japanese toy maker will soon sell a portable, personal karaoke machine so you can belt out your favorite tunes anywhere, and without having to wait for the microphone.

The “Hi-kara” karaoke machine, by Takara Tomy, is a 7-cm (nearly 3-inch) cube which weighs less than a pound and works like a real machine.

Once the singer selects a song, which can be downloaded off the Internet or from special music cartridges, the lyrics come up on a 2.4-inch display. The machine also has headphones and speakers attached.

“Hi-kara” will go on sale in October for about $100, with song cartridges costing about $40 each.

Shigekazu Mihashi, marketing director at Takara Tomy, told Reuters the machine was aimed at youngsters who could not go into karaoke booths or parlors, which often serve alcohol.

According to Japanese law, youngsters under 16 must leave karaoke parlors by 6 p.m. while those aged under 18 can stay only until 11 p.m.

“Girls who are middle-school age and under can’t go to karaoke parlors by themselves even if they wanted to sing, but now they can try it at home with this new karaoke machine,” Mihashi said.

Japan is the birthplace of the first karaoke machine and the word is derived from the Japanese for “empty orchestra.” Karaoke singing is popular all over the world, and especially in Asia where many families own personal karaoke machines and “KTV” lounges abound.

(Reporting by Chika Saito and Olivier Fabre, writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Roger Crabb)

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