Roland has arrived at CES in Las Vegas with a couple of ways to satisfy that New Year's resolution to learn to play the piano. Its new Go keyboards come in two flavors, one aimed squarely at beginners who just want to create music right off the bat and another for those who want to learn how to play. In both cases, Roland says that the onboard sounds all come from its pro-level synths and pianos, allowing for sonic familiarity when it comes time to move up to the real thing.
The Go:Keys flavor has been designed for use by creative types who aren't versed in the art of playing notes or chords and can't read music score. Roland says that it boasts simple one-touch operation where different instrument sounds have been assigned to a range of keys on the keyboard itself. The user can create on-the-fly looped phrases by playing notes on the keyboard and then use an X/Y control pad for sonic tweaking.
Players can hear the 500+ available sounds through integrated speakers or via headphones, and Bluetooth means that it can be wirelessly connected to mobile devices for jamming to favorite tunes or launching music creation apps. The keyboard also runs on six AA-sized batteries for portable convenience.
The Go:Piano shares much of its feature set with the Go:Keys model, including Bluetooth wireless connectivity, battery power and rocking its own speaker system, but sounds from its included bank are selected via the touch panel above the keyboard. It's 61 full-sized keys respond to the player's touch "just like a fine acoustic grand," and Roland has included playing practice features to help learners improve, such as a metronome to help keep time and the ability to transpose the keyboard to a different pitch.
Both Go keyboards will hit the shelves toward the end of the year. The Go: Keys carries an estimated street price of US$299, while the Go:Piano comes in at $329.
Learning to play an instrument is tough, as we discovered ourselves earlier this year. It remains to be seen whether Roland's attempts to snare newbies will pay off, but the promise of pro-level sonics, cooked-in Bluetooth connectivity, play anywhere portability and attractive price points should all prove tempting to beginners keen to make sweet, sweet music with ease.