New Vinyl Playback Technology

I've seen the ad in Stereophile for the vinyl playback device that uses a laser to "read" the grooves. Anybody heard one that would want to comment on the sound? Are vinyl lovers excited by or interested in this technology?
I saw the ad too, but stopped reading after the sentence "Plays LPs like a CD player!!"
It's not that new...I remember hearing about it ten years ago or so. Based on what people have said here and at Audio Asylum, they have flaws a plenty. Do a search at Audio Asylum and you'll find some info.
I am curious. I have never listened to one and would like to know more about it. I believe "Plays LPs like a CD player!!" referred to its ability to skip tracks that is a convenience I really like. I also like the fact that it won't put wear on LPs. On the other hand, it takes away the tweaking part of vinyl playback. To many vinyl lovers, tweaking is half the fun.
Phild is right. This appears to be the old Finial laser turntable from years ago. Looks like they finally got a company to manufacture and market it, hopefully for far less than the original $30K price (which back then, was in Goldmund Reference territory--now, with the Rockport, Walker and SME tables out there it doesn't look so imposing, does it?). The biggest problem it had before, as I recall, was that if there was a speck of dust on the record it would cause terrible sounds through your speakers. There are some who like it quite a bit, others who could pass on it; check the AA archives. I believe that Ralph Glassgal, of Ambiphonics fame, has one and a friend of mine has been trying to get me to go listen to it with him, since we're nearby, but I'm still having trouble getting myself interested in it, particularly since I have a major dust problem in my house.
I understand that it costs $11,000 and if anything goes wrong with it, the unit must be returned to Japan for service. I'd rather have a VPI HRX.
Rcprince, I once asked Ralph Glasgal about his Finial TT and he intimated that the tics and pops caused by dust were a real issue. In fact, he used it in conjunction with some sort of electronic device that was designed to minimize the tics and pops. But it would be nice to have instant track access for all my LPs, if it works that way...
I have a CD from this company. It compares the original
LP, scratchy and all, to the same but played on the laser
turntable. I was not impressed with it. There wasn't a drastic difference. Maybe a little cleaned up but not sounding like the original master tape! I'd like to hear
a new lp played from this gadget. I hope this player finds
a home among vinyl lovers as it does sound unique. Also, it's a first generation player. Remember your record player
from the 60's? Joe
Looks like they just came out with a new line of models beginning of this month.

Info from manufacturer here:
Jnovak, It's definitely not first generation. They offer three models based on a machine that was introduced over fourteen years ago. The lowest priced model has actually been updated again since this reintroduction, making it at least third generation.

Sound quality: they make a point of saying your LPs must be absolutely, pristinely clean. The laser pickups probably read everything, unless the dust in your grooves is transparent! As to the quality of their circuit design and components, who knows?

The top two models offer some great features for 78 collectors, like variable speeds calibrated to the nearest .1 RPM. Pretty cool, and all available from the remote.

I could live without all the TT/arm/cartridge tweaking. After all, I'd still get to clean records. ;) However, $11K+ is quite a stretch for a box that's too ugly for Radio Shack. I've been ashamed of several of my TT's, but never because of their looks!
I can't comment on how the laser turntable compares to the traditional high end tables but it is a lot better than my B&O 4002 model with either a EN-20 or CE-20 cartridge. I have only had it a week but can say that most of the opinions regarding the level of cleanliness of the record are overstated. You do need to clean your records but is spending a minute or two to clean a record that bad (many of my albums sure needed a cleaning). This was a major purchase for me and I spent nearly 2 years tracking down owners and getting their opinions (I did not find any that were not satisfied). I think it is a wonderful technology and deserves consideration. I hope Mr Chiba has success at the CES although this is a uphill battle when much of the younger population believes a 128K MP3 file is a quality recording. Have fun, Rick
Does it do a a/d conversion? Trying to imagine how the laser gets the signal to the phono amp or does it go straight to the preamp....
No A/D conversion. The laser reads groove modulations and generates an analog electrical signal which is RIAA equalized and boosted to line level at the outputs. No seperate phono stage needed, just a line level pre.
Also remember, this turntable only can play a black vinyl
record. At the Stereophile show a couple of years ago I picked up a Richard Thompson double album, The Best of the Capitol Years. Great collection, clear vinyl. For 11K I certinally would not want ANY limitations. If you have the bucks & like gadgets, go for it, but as far as wearing out a record, if properly set up, I should live that long.