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July 31, 2014

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A much, much smaller alternative to ‘Guitar Hero’

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Rob Curley

Riff-Rocker is a more portable and much cheaper alternative to “Guitar Hero.”

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Riff-Rocker

In a sea of high-tech video games, accessories and consoles at CES, Riff-Rocker is aiming for a different audience than most of the other gaming companies at the conference.

It looks like a tiny version of a "Guitar Hero" controller -- and I mean a *really* tiny version of "Guitar Hero" -- that operates on free, open-source software (Frets On Fire).

The game plugs in, via USB, to just about any halfway decent computer system out there, and -- according to Jered Brent, a network admnistrator for the company that distributes the game -- is compatible on Windows, Mac and Linux machines.

The key to Riff-Rocker is the price: $14.99.

"This is really geared towards families who can't afford a $300 gaming console and another $180 in accessories," Brent said. "Another unexpected audience that were finding out about at this conference are people on airplanes wanting to pass time on their flights."

But don't try to find Riff-Rocker at Wal-Mart or Best Buy just yet, because right now you can only find the miniature digital axe at online retailers, linked from the Riff-Rocker site.

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The "ecobutton," which helps computers save on energy.

Dan Lewis, vice president of purchasing for Buztronics, the company that produces Riff-Rocker, said the big box stores are coming ... though finding more places to sell the game was one of the main reasons for showing the product at CES this year.

And in Las Vegas, that likely means Fry's.

Lewis said Buztronics has other products already available at Fry's -- mostly accessories -- and expects Riff-Rocker to be there sometime in the next three months or so.

Another product being shown at CES by the same company is the "ecobutton."

Lewis said the "ecobutton" helps to put PCs to sleep in the most energy-saving way. Then when you wake up the computer, it will tell you how much money and electricity you've saved for the last day, as well as the total amount since you began using the product.

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