Review: The ONE Smart Keyboard ‘Light’ – Learn to play the piano without a teacher?
I have always been fascinated by the beautiful and soothing sounds of a piano. I have not yet been able to put my hand on it. The reason for this, apart from the lack of time, is also the sometimes high costs for the music lessons and the equipment. But with TheONE Smart Keyboard ‘Light’ it should now be possible to learn to play the piano without a music teacher.
Can the smart keyboard deliver what it promises? In the test you will find out whether thanks to the keyboard I have what it takes to become a modern Mozart or whether it is just a small gimmick for in between.
- (Xiaomi) TheOne Smart Keyboard ‘Light’
- at Amazon for $219 (black) | GearBest for $431.30
|Model||TheONE Smart ‘Light|
|Loudspeaker||2 x 10 Watt|
|Connectors||USB, AUX In & Out, Microphone, Pedal|
|Extras||touch response, sustain function, 20 available musical instruments|
|Features||Two learning naps available, LEDs in the keys|
TheONE Smart Keyboard ‘Light’ is just a normal musical instrument on its own. What makes it “smart” is the app that goes with it. It should offer beginners the possibility to enter the world of pianists without attending a music school or a music teacher. But before we take a closer look at the app, let’s take a look at the hardware.
Scope of delivery
There is not really much included in the scope of delivery of the smart gadget. Besides the keyboard there are some connection cables included.
In the scope of supply is:
- Instruction manual
- China power cord
- 3 x Type B USB cable
- micro USB
The enclosed instruction manual is unfortunately only in Chinese. If you don’t speak Chinese, you should switch to English, which is offered as a PDF file on the official website.
Design and functions
The keyboard weighs about 5 kg and comes in a plain white design. With 61 keys, the keyboard measures 91 x 33 x 10 cm. The sound is reproduced by two loudspeakers located to the left and right of the control panel. The panel itself is located under a flap that serves as a stand for the smartphone or tablet and for sheet music.
The Control Panel has three buttons and a controller that allows you to do everything you need. While the volume control is for volume control, the others are for sustain and sound selection. The obligatory on/off switch is also located there.
The piano keys also have a touch dynamic. This controls the volume of the tone played and thus it is possible to play louder or softer tones depending on the strength of the keystroke. The special thing about the keys are the red LEDs underneath. However, these only come into play in combination with one of the two corresponding apps.
On the back of the keyboard you will find the power supply and other inputs for microphone, AUX In/Out, USB type B and pedal (not included). The headphone input is located on the front panel. On the underside there is also the possibility to supply the keyboard with six AA batteries. So you can also use the China-Gadget on the road, without mains connection.
I am very impressed by the simple design of the keyboard and especially in white the keyboard looks very noble. The few function keys can be concealed with the flap, so that it comes much closer to the piano feeling, because you only have the piano keys in front of you. Due to its low weight, it can also be easily transported back and forth. Only the on/off switch is wobbly and feels a bit cheap.
Good sound quality with a few weaknesses
The two loudspeakers deliver a corresponding sound quality of 10 watts each. The power is sufficient to reproduce the sounds of the approximately 20 available musical instruments in good quality. I only heard a very minimal tinny noise, but that’s a very high level of whining.
The sound quality over the headphones is actually quite solid. But the emphasis is on “actually”. When headphones are connected, you can clearly hear the sounds, but they are accompanied by constant background noise. As soon as you don’t hammer hard on the keys, the noise is even more present. The problem also occurred with other headphones, so it’s definitely not due to the headphones used.
All in all it doesn’t come close to the sound quality of a real piano, but for an electric keyboard in this price range the sound is already good. The touch response also fulfilled its function. Depending on the hardness of my keystroke, the tone was either quieter or louder.
Now we come to the actual heart of TheONE keyboard. The App or Apps. For the smart keyboard, two apps are available for free via Google Play and Apple Store. One app is aimed at adults and the other at young children. While the adult app was easy to find in the Google Play Store, I couldn’t find the child-friendly one. Fortunately, there’s a QR code in the manual that can be used to download the app. There were no problems via the Apple Store. Both apps could be found.
TheONE Smart Piano App
To use the app, you have to register once. Once you have registered, you will be taken to the main menu, where you, as an experienced pianist, will be able to try out the music with piano notes. Or you can take a crash course by playing some pieces with the support of the app. The piece of music will not continue until you have pressed the corresponding key. The “Games” segment is similar, except that the track doesn’t pause.
In addition, the application offers tutorials in the form of videos to help you get started in the world of piano playing, starting with the correct sitting and hand position. Some videos are moderated by the Chinese pianist Lang Lang. In addition, there are over 100 other tutorial videos from external sources, which are in a rather poor video quality.
The app definitely offers a lot of tutorials, especially the videos recorded especially for the app I find very helpful. But as soon as you are able to deal with sheet music, you have to pay extra for many of the music pieces. However, if you already have a good level of experience, you can simply get the corresponding sheet music from YouTube or other official sources.
TheONE: One Pianist App
You also have to register for the app especially for children. However, if you have already registered for TheONE Smart Piano App, you do not need to re-register.
You will immediately notice in the main menu that it is aimed at children. The lessons are divided into levels in which the tutorial videos mentioned above are also used. In addition, there are small mini-games to help you learn the notes better. Each note is assigned a small “monster” to make it easier to memorize.
In fact, I find the “children’s app” more pleasant and helpful than the other one. You can remember the keys or notes better thanks to the visualization in the form of monsters. However, the perpetual background music gets annoying in the long run and also disturbs while playing, but fortunately you can switch it off in the settings.
Good interaction between app and keyboard?
The apps suggest that you can also connect to the keyboard via Bluetooth. Unfortunately it didn’t work out in my test. The app just couldn’t find my keyboard. A connection via USB cable works as expected.
With regard to the LED function, not much can be said. The LEDs light up synchronously with the notes displayed on the smartphone or tablet. If it doesn’t work, you can calibrate it in the settings.
The illuminated keys unfortunately turned out to be superfluous in the test: They are indeed a nice feature, but in my opinion it is hardly possible in practice to pay attention to the smartphone or tablet and the glow at the same time. You don’t notice until too late which key is lit up. In very bright rooms, you hardly notice the red light, so the whole thing is even more difficult.
Am I now a Mozart of modern times? Definitely not. Personally, I think the keyboard and app is a nice gimmick for in between. The apps really offer a lot of tutorials, so it’s easy to get started. But you shouldn’t be put off by the extent and fact that they’re only in English. The feedback in the form of achieved points and number of scores is nice, but it doesn’t come close to the right feedback of a music teacher.
Of course there are some cheaper keyboards with similar features (touch response, etc.), but what makes TheONE special are the learning naps. So if you’ve always wanted to take your first steps into the world of pianists and can’t see through the small weaknesses of the keyboard, you could be satisfied with TheONE Smart Keyboard ‘Light’.To the gadget