This cute, rubberized keyboard packs proper piano-style keys

By

Arturia MicroLab
Looks small, feels big.
Photo: Arturia

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.

Arturia MicroLab

The Arturia MicroLab MIDI keyboard has just enough essential parts.
Just enough essential parts.
Photo: Arturia

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 Arturia MicroLab keyboard comes in a variety of colors!
Colors!
Photo: Arturia

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.

This cable is both integrated and detachable.
This cable is both integrated and detachable.
Photo: Arturia

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 — $89.00