The jukebox is joining the digital age, and what a beautiful thing it is. We're not talking bland, black-box media players sold by the PC worldno, it's Rock-Ola turning its nostalgic, '50s-era beasts into MP3-playing splendors.
Rock-Ola is a venerable name that may have helped inspire the term rock-and-roll. It demonstrated its Nostalgic Music Center at the Consumer Electronics Show. These are full-size jukeboxes, with the wood and bubble tubes that you might have seen in a 1950s or 1960s pool hall.
The big difference is a touch-screen LCD where the records would've been, as well as a DVD drive and USB connector. Inside is a 160-gigabyte hard drive that can hold more than 2,500 CDs, which can be ripped directly from the DVD drive. Or dump your digital music collection through the USB port.
Rock-Ola has already made commercial jukeboxes that can retrieve hundreds of thousands of songs over the Internet. But these new players are aimed at homeowners, though they're no impulse buy with prices running about $7,500. A cheaper version, for about $6,000, does away with the LCD touch screen and hard drive and adds an iPod dock for playing its digital music. Expensive, yes, but perhaps the best-looking iPod accessory on the market.