PC World has published its list of the 25 most innovative products of the year, and Yamaha’s Tenori-On is number 16:
16. Yamaha Tenori-On
Innovation: Inspired and intuitive handheld instrument redefines music-making.
Benefit: Nothing else even comes close to Japanese media artist Toshio Iwai’s digital instrument.
While the Tenori-On is likely to appeal to a fairly specialized audience, the device screams innovation. Consisting of a 16-by-16 grid of LED-illuminated buttons that a user touches to manipulate sound in a variety of intuitive and eye-catching ways, the Tenori-On–designed by the creator of the cult-hit Nintendo DS music game Electroplankton–is like nothing you’ve ever seen. It has 256 built-in sounds, and an integrated SD Card slot lets you copy original samples from your computer. You can also use its MIDI-out port to connect with your PC’s music software or your other hardware instruments. Currently it is sold only in Great Britain, but anybody willing to pay £599 (about $1200) can order one from dolphinmusic.co.uk.
We’re not quite as sold on the Tenori-On as PC World, because of the Tenori-On’s limited expressive capabilities. But in a year that offered electronic music instruments by the buckets, the Tenori-On stood out.