Review: The One Smart Keyboard Pro uses RGB lights to help you play piano


Learning to play the piano is hard. I know; I’ve been trying for almost a year, and wrote an article on my process and struggles a few months ago.

Not surprisingly, there are to a myriad of apps, websites, and other tools pop up over the years in order to make playing the piano easier. In many cases, these tools try to simplify the process by introducing a visual element to help you map and time notes without needing to know sheet music.

The $769 One Smart Keyboard Pro is such a product, but it’s better than most in that it doesn’t try to replace traditional methods. For the most part, it deftly straddles the line between helpful learning tool and fun gimmick.

An important disclaimer: I’m very much a beginner with many years to go before my opinion on piano technique is particularly valuable. My impressions are from the perspective of a beginner who has tried every major keyboard out there and consulted with people better than me.

With that out of the way, this is a tech blog, so I’m going give this piano the gadget treatment.

First off it, looks great. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better-looking keyboard for its price. I tested the white model, which I far prefer, but it’s also available in black. Despite a largely plastic build, it all feels solidly constructed, and I love the minimal design and touches of acrylic.

Rather than being bloated with buttons and screens, the Smart Keryboard has just a power button and volume knob. Press in on the knob, and you can choose between 88 sounds – each corresponding to a color above a key. This color-coded system is surprisingly fast – each color group reflects a different group on instruments. It also looks pretty rad.

But to access even more instrument sounds and advanced functions, you’ll need to attach your smartphone or tablet and download the accompanying app. Mercifully, the Smart Piano comes with USB-C, Micro USB, and Lightning cables to make it work with any Android or iOS phone or tablet. The omission of MIDI over Bluetooth is odd for a ‘smart’ piano in 2018, but at least the cable will charge your device as you use it.

Unlike many keyboards aimed at beginners, you get a full set of 88 fully-weighted keys. For the piano nerds, it uses a Medeli K6 action, same as in the Kurzweil SP6 stage piano although they’re not graded to be heavier towards the left.

As with computer keyboards, piano keyboards can be quite subjective, but to my touch it feels better than similarly priced Yamaha actions and a tad behind Casio’s. It has a standard glossy finish rather than the grippy simulated ivory that’s become increasingly popular, but that’s no huge caveat.

That being said, you can get a significantly better action on comparably-priced keyboards like the Roland FP-30 or Kawai ES110. But that’s highly unlikely to matter for beginners or kids.

Where the Smart Keyboard does fall short for me is on the sound. The speakers themselves are better than some of the competition, but I’m not fond of the piano samples used. For one, there seems to be little to no sympathetic resonance, a physical phenomenon that’s important for a full-bodied sound on sustained notes.