Miselu's abortive Android-based Neiro has been shelved, with the obvious eminence of iOS in the music app space. Rather than trying to make Google's platform work for their hardware keyboard, Miselu decided to bring their design expertise to make a keyboard for the iPad. The C.24 is the result!
I had the opportunity to see it in action yesterday during an interview on Skype. After a moment of somber reflection on the death of Android's last hope for the musician market, I was immediately intrigued by the design and technical forethought that went into this portable keyboard. There is already an array of iPad keyboards, but Miselu is bringing some new features to the table in a package that fits over the iPad, like a case, when neither are in use.
The most welcomed new feature in their design is the larger keys. I've got medium-sized hands, but struggle with the typical "mini-keys" that are common among portable keyboards. Miselu's C.24 has keys that extend out from the body to provide nearly full-sized depth. This retractable keyboard design is really cool when seen in action, but I'm curious to see how it plays.
A combination of magnets and infrared sensors provide the bounce-action and velocity-sensitivity found in traditional keybeds. Once again, I'm anxious to get my hands on one to really try that out. I was paying close attention to the demonstration in the interview, and I was reasonably impressed by the key-action; the bounce seemed about right, or at least right enough.
I'm a little concerned about the stability of the iPad in the "groove" that it rests in, especially when propped on your knees on a bus or train. They also showed off a modular element to the design, where developers can manufacture their own hardware controls that slot into the keyboard. I felt this was a little overly optimistic, and so far no developers have signed on to participate with their own modules.
Having said all that though, this thing is $100 on Kickstarter right now for the first 1,000 backers. At the time of this writing they are already at $20,000 of their $100,000 goal in the first 10 hours, so they have a real shot at making that goal. The next 1,000 backers will have to cough up $150, with the retail price falling somewhere between $150-200. They hope to be shipping to backers by November!
Comparisons to Akai's MPC Fly face-flop are obvious. I think Miselu have a much better shot with this, since there are far more keyboard players out there than MPC-pad players. Also unlike the MPC Fly, which only really worked with the Akai MPC app, this has true CoreMIDI support and is customizable from within the iPad via an app. I'm personally pretty excited about this, and I've been promised a demo unit in the coming weeks.
You can see the usual flashy 3-minute intro video on their Kickstarter page, but I think more of you will be interested in this interview with Miselu's Vice President of Design, Mike Prichard. You get to see several of the prototypes and he answers the question I'm sure you are asking: Why the hell is this 24 keys instead of the usual 25?