I am going to write about this at length–but the kind folks at CME were willing to send me an XKey Air 25 to review. The package also included a new product called the WIDI BUD, which is a Bluetooth MIDI dongle.
The XKey Air is incredible. It isn’t a piano (key travel is 1/8 of an inch or so), but for people needing a quality keyboard interface for notation or digital audio workstations–this might very well be the answer. It looks and feels like an Apple product and should be on shelves in the Apple Store.
The WIDI BUD has blown my mind–it can convert nearly any device without Bluetooth Low Energy to a BLE MIDI device: Windows, Android, Mac OS, iOS, Linux, and yes, CHROMEBOOK. And it doesn’t just work with the XKey Air, it will work with any Bluetooth MIDI device (JamStik+, PUC+, mi.1, c.24, etc.).
Let me state this again…if you have the WIDI BUD, your CHROMEBOOK can interface with Wireless MIDI and Web MIDI, meaning that you can wirelessly connect and work with Noteflight, flat.io, and SoundTrap–and probably a few other programs (those are the biggies).
Yes, you could use wired keyboards (such as the standard and less expensive XKey), but why would you want to?
I have come to the realization that with the advances in Chrome OS, Chromebooks could now be used to teach music theory and music technology (e.g. DAW skills). I could not have said that a year ago. I still think there are better devices for all-around use in music education, but I could teach traditional music theory (with composition) and music technology with a Chromebook. However–an annual education subscription would still be required. If you had a theory class, Noteflight Learn would be $119 for 35 students, flat.io would be $52.50 for 35 students, and SoundTrap is $249 for 50 (or fewer) users.
I will write more about the XKey Air and WIDI BUD in a few days–but I can already tell you that I would recommend either of these products.