This is the new MicroLab from Arturia. It’s a USB MIDI keyboard you can hook up to your Mac, your iPad or your iPhone. It’s tiny — but how does it differ from the zillion other portable MIDI keyboards littering the pages of Amazon? Two ways.
One is that it has a bunch of clever design features that make it great for travel or small desktop setups. The other is that it has big, proper, velocity-sensitive keys, instead of the stupid junky keys on almost every similar MIDI keyboard.
The MicroLab uses the same keys as Arturia’s industry-standard KeyStep. The KeyStep is a pretty inexpensive keyboard already, and manages to balance features (it can connect to just about everything, ever) with performance — the keys are good enough for anyone who isn’t an accomplished piano player.
For the MicroLab, Arturia took two octaves’ worth of those excellent keys, then encased them in a small, rubberized body. This body comes in a few toylike colors, and features a neat, stowaway USB cable. You can wrap it around the unit when not in use, where it stays protected inside a recessed groove.
The MicroLab’s own USB port is also recessed, so you never have to have anything sticking out of the body. It’s perfect for jamming onto a small desk, or using on a cramped stage.
Also clever is the shape of the unit. The raised edges protect the keys even when you toss the thing into a backpack without its case. Add in a pair of touch-strips for pitch bend and preset duties, a chord feature (play a chord with one key), and octave up/down buttons, and you have a keyboard with just enough features, and nothing more. I’m seriously tempted.
Buy from: Amazon — $82.95