For many kids, the prospect of practicing piano is not a pleasant one: Sitting alone in front of a keyboard with nothing but sheet music in front of you. The ONE Smart Piano hopes to shake up the drudgery of practice with a light-up keyboard that, in conjunction with an iPad app, helps gamify the learning process, Rock Band-style.
I sat down for a few minutes with the $1,500 Smart Piano as well as the $300 Light Keyboard, and came away impressed not only with the app, but also the feel of both instruments, which felt very much like the real thing. Both devices are due to hit stores this fall, but the company is currently in the middle of an IndieGoGo campaign.
The Piano, which has an attractive wood case, weighs 115 pounds, measures 54 x 34 x 19 inches, and comes in white or black. It has a full 88-key board with weighted keys, three foot pedals, and a MIDI input. The Light Keyboard weighs 11 pounds, and has 61 backlit keys. Both have built-in speakers and can play a variety of other instruments.
The ONE Smart Piano isn't the first such device to use the concept of light-up keys. McCarthy Music also has similar keyboard; in my hands-on with that setup, I liked that the entire key was illuminated (and in multiple colors), but the action on the ONE Piano's keys was much closer to that of a traditional piano.
The app, available for Android and iOS, lets you download classical sheet music for free, as well as pop songs from Hal Leonard for 99 cents each. Aspiring Billy Joels can simply read the sheet music, or use one of several features in the app to learn a song. For example, one setting will illuminate the proper keys as the player progresses through a song; a Game mode will stream the music in illuminated bars similar to Rock Band, and award points for accuracy. A player piano setting will automatically play the song while illuminating the keys and the notes in the sheet music. Other features include voice and video instructions
The $1,500 retail price for the Smart Piano (and $300 for the Light Keyboard) is very reasonable for what your getting. However, the company is currently offering deals for IndieGoGo backers, who will receive their devices in September.
Michael A. Prospero is the Reviews Editor at Laptop Mag and Tom’s Guide. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, he’s probably using the latest kitchen gadget. Follow Mike at @mikeprospero.