Soda, candy bar, and an MP3 player? Yep, you can now get select consumer electronics out of a vending machine. Sony is testing the waters by placing these high-tech automated machines in 3 malls across the States. The thinking here is that these machines are much cheaper to roll out than a fully-staffed store in a mall; in fact, they are being referred to as ‘robotic stores’. The would-be shopper would still have access to detailed product info, not to mention movie trailers and videos. I like the idea but only for products like memory sticks, really cheap MP3 players, music downloads, etc., but if I’m going to lay out more than $100 on a product, I really want to understand what I’m buying. For me, that means a lot of Internet research. While I’m comfortable with that, a lot of people would rather go talk to a knowledgeable salesperson in a store about the pros and cons of certain products in the same category. I’m honestly not seeing this going much further past the novelty factor. These machines would have to get much smarter and be able to practically ‘talk’ to customers like a salesperson would.