Finally, the wait is over. As technology companies battle for the living room, Roland has built the ultimate convergence device. The VIMA concept keyboard addresses the need of the average home consumer to play organ and keyboard sounds, manage digital photos and videos, and perform karaoke using a single, integrated product. The days of having to play 88-key keyboards without the convenience of transforming your digital video and photo content into interactive karaoke performances can now be a distant memory.

Translate what I just said to Japanese, and I think it might make sense.

Roland has just unveiled VIMA (rhymes with ZIMA), “a new concept keyboard that blends various musical and visual content applications into one consumer-friendly unit.” Yes, previously you needed a Mac with iLife to make soundtracks for your videos and photos, a digital piano, and a karaoke machine, just to get the functionality that’s now combined in the VIMA. I know there have been countless times where I wished I could transform my keyboard into a karaoke machine, so this should come as a major relief.

Side note: I know we have some CDM readers in Japan, so maybe you can tell me if it is in fact more likely that you’d find an 88-key digital piano / karaoke workstation in a living room there than here. If so, your country really is awesome.

I never do this, but in this case you have to read the whole press release to believe it:

VIMA or Video Interactive Musical Application is a new kind of entertainment unit that allows anyone to take part in the video/audio experience. The concept is simple: simply plug in any audio or visual device that you have in your home, such as a video camera, iPodâ„¢, DVD player, or television and then, with a few button pushes, create your own videos, customize your karaoke experience, or compose your very own soundtracks for your digital photo albums.

Additionally, audio CDs, DVDs, MP3s and any other digital images/multimedia content the customer may have archived, can be loaded onto the VIMA for hours of customized family entertainment.

The home karaoke experience has never been this easy. By connecting a television and a microphone to the VIMA (both sold separately), customers can sing along to music while lyrics are displayed on the screen. Families and friends can also connect two microphones for duet-style performances.

Thanks to Roland’s progressive technology, VIMA also comes equipped with 264 built-in musical instrument sounds, and a “vocal effect” function that manipulates the sound of the human voice for additional entertainment. VIMA even contains a “center Cancel function” that can mute the vocal part of an audio CD, allowing singers to add their own vocal stylings.

The dynamic and feature-rich VIMA is designed with the whole family in mind and comes fully equipped with Key Number Sheets for easy play-along fun, a Melody Guide, and Tempo Adjustment functions.

With the attached wireless remote, home-entertainers can freely control the music tempo, key, and songs from anywhere in the room–for hands-free ease of use.

Roland has also included the VIMA TUNES CD-ROM that displays lyrics, music scores, and a dynamic library of slide-show images for creative performances.

The new VIMA is available in two sizes, the RK-100 entry level VIMA and the more advanced RK-500 VIMA.

I would say this was the weirdest announcement of the year, but 2006 began with the folks at Open Labs trying to convince us that what the world needed was a hybrid synth / DJ workstation / VJ workstation / keyboard / Windows PC on which you could watch high-definition video and surround sound DVDs:

NAMM: MiKo Keyboard/Computer Groovestation Home Entertainment Center?

… and, no, we didn’t ultimately see MiKos at Best Buy.

No web link, pricing, or availability on VIMA yet; stay tuned.

Yes, you can still buy ZIMA. In fact, mixing large quantities of ZIMA (“a truly unique alcohol beverage”) with VIMA (“a new concept keyboard that blends various musical and visual content applications into one consumer-friendly unit”) while using the VIMA’s innovative karaoke features is likely to enhance your ability to provide “customized family entertainment.”

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  • Damon

    Think I will wait for the Arturia emulation

  • velocipede

    Hi Peter,

    I was at the Musical Instrument Festival in Ikebukuro today and got to talk to some Roland reps about the VIMA. I asked them who they thought would buy it. The answer was wedding sites, some families and fukushi shisetsu (literally, welfare facilities, meaning public places for people, mainly elderly, to hang out). I think they may have a market in Japan, land of karaoke. Wedding parties are typically held in hotels, and the program often includes slide shows of the couple and singing by various people. I can also see this thing being popular in fukushi shisetsu. A lot of people in Japan can actualy play from a score and karaoke itself replaced guitarists and pianists who played in bars. I can imagine some karaoke bars also getting these things.

    However, in the Roland area, not many people seemed to be interested. Everyone was crowded around the V-drums and Boss pedals. Surprisingly, the VJ stuff did not seem to be getting much attention either. It may have been because the crowd was more rock'n'roll oriented, given the preponderance of guitar manufacturers and sellers.

    Aaron

  • Hey velocipede,

    Thanks; that was exactly what I wondering. I still wonder who they imagine buying it in the US, though from the demos I've seen I think they're aiming it at the iPod crowd.

    It's funny, what you describe at the Roland area is pretty close to what NAMM is like. People pretty much avoid the keyboards and head straight for the other gear. The VJ equipment doesn't surprise me, either; I think that's a niche market. Those customers are out there; maybe they just don't come to the shows.

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  • ralph son herdrich

    Is there a brochure available on the Roland Vima Concept Keyboard?If so,I'd like to get one in the mail.This thing is absolutely fascinating!I'd love to have something like this!My address is shown below.

    1054 Evergreen Drive

    Carol Stream,Il.60188-9176

    usa

  • Deb

    I'll tell you who would buy – me and my husband! I LOVE this product! Our home is a ranch with very narrow halls and smaller, narrow rooms. There's no way a baby grand would fit and we even were having trouble figuring where we would squish a standard acoustic console. This is just right not to mention the sound is astounding!

    Plus my husband can learn how to play on it without having to drive to and pay for lessons.

    And with lots of nieces, nephews, grandkids and parents celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries, it's the perfect instrument for us to put together lasting memories to share at family celebrations.

    I haven't owned a piano in over 25 years; ours is being delivered tomorrow and I can hardly wait to get started!!!