Virtual pianos and synths in mobile device apps are great fun but nothing really gets your creative juices flowing like a real keyboard. If you want to marry the virtual and real worlds and find devices like Ion Audio's Piano Apprentice just a little too traditional, the similarly-priced K-Board from Keith McMillen Instruments might just tick your boxes. The portable 13-inch USB MIDI keyboard is reported compatible with all USB tablets and laptops, as well as leading music creation software like GarageBand, Ableton Live, NI Komplete and Animoog, and has been built to survive life on the road.

From the same music hardware and software house responsible for the QuNeo 3D Multi-Touch Pad Controller we reviewed in October 2013, the K-Board looks very similar to, and is actually based on, the company's QuNexus keyboard, but doesn't sport the Control Voltage/Gate inputs and outputs and is headed for the hands of the consumer rather than the pro musician.

The K-Board has been designed to make music creation with tablets (an Apple USB connection kit is needed for iPads) and laptops easy and fun. The backpack-friendly device features an LED-backlit nano keyboard with touch-sensitive "smart" fabric under each of its 25 playable keys capable of detecting velocity, pressure and tilt. Professional features include polyphonic pitch bend, aftertouch and up or down buttons with a seven octave range.

The company says that its rugged music maker can be kicked around at concerts, will brush off drink spills and has survived being run over by a tour van and a drop from a two-story building.

It's class compliant for plug and play functionality and draws the power it needs to run from the device it's connected to – which has the advantage of not needing to carry around yet another model-specific power adapter, but does mean that you'll have to keep an eye on the battery level of your mobile device.

KMI will release the K-Board exclusively through Guitar Center retailers on November 1 for US$99.

Have a look at the short video demo below.

Product page: K-Board

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