Going back to piano: SmartTV compatibility, other devices and alternatives apps.

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Gurior
Posts: 3

Post by Gurior » 09-03-19 12:41 pm

Hi Synthesia community :),

I’ve been wanting to ease myself back into piano (adult) and have been exploring some interactive apps in order to stimulate myself into playing more, above what sheet music and instructional booklets alone can provide.
So far I’ve come across Synthesia (and others, more on that below) and in a perfect world would love to setup my under-utilized large screen SmartTV (you know where this is going) but I’ve hit incompatibilities hurdles and gone past my tolerance threshold on self-research and troubleshooting, so coming here for advice.
  • I Have a Casio Px160 piano (with midi and usb outputs) and, sadly, a LG Smart TV running WebOS. As far as I researched, I can’t find a workaround to make Synthesia run on WebOS that doesn’t require additional hardware (like a A5X MAX Android tvbox). Have I missed something?
    Alternatively, I know I can run Synthesia on an intermediate device (I own an android smartphone) and can simply set the TV as a screen display of my phone, but I’m worried about latency (Wi-Fi connectivity). Am I overthinking this?
  • As a second point, I’m also equally interested in other Apps I’ve come upon (mostly combing through this very forum) like PianoMarvel and HomeConcert Xtreme (both of which appear only usable from a windows/Mac tablet, no android). Thankfully, all 3 offer free Trails/Demo/free versions to try out, but I’m also interested in other users’ personal experiences at what distinguishes them in 2019, functionally speaking. I’ve done some research on this very forum, but have become overloaded with sorting trough 5-10 years old post (although most were very informative) and cross-referencing with Synthesia patch notes. Also, trying the free versions of PianoMarvel/Homeconcert would require buying additional hardware.

    For someone not too shy (but cautious) about spending a bit of money, are most functionality in between these 3 redundant, or does any bring something fundamentally unique the others don’t have at all?
    I put Synthesia first because I’m almost already set-up hardware-speaking. It’s the only Android-compatible option at the moment until I commit to spend cash for a tablet/ipad dedicated solely for running the other apps.
  • As a third and final point, to cite Nicholas from 2015 :
    The right tool for the job is an iPad-sized (or larger) tablet on the keyboard music stand.
    I’m opened (and avid) to suggestions as cheap but versatile hardware to fill this role: preferentially that are compatible with all 3 apps. But there also, I’m lost in a sea of options, and don’T know where to begin between a Windows Tablet, ipad or Mac.
Sorry for the long post, kinda going through an early mid-life crisis, and being a bit ambitious about the whole thing. Any advice is extremely appreciated!

Nicholas
Posts: 11997

Post by Nicholas » 09-03-19 3:31 pm

I can't speak to WebOS (this was the first time I'd heard of it), but connecting something directly via HDMI shouldn't be too bad, latency-wise. As long as you connect a mouse (and with a bit of manual effort to get the app installed), I've even heard that Synthesia works just fine with Android TV devices.

I also can't speak much to the competition. I'd like to say I'm following in Feynman's footsteps and have consciously chosen to disregard, but the reality is that I simply haven't made the time. I do know that every Synthesia video on YouTube seems to have a paid affiliate link in the description for a few of the other guys. What that tells me is that some of your purchase dollars are going toward marketing when you buy their stuff. Here, virtually 100% of it goes directly back into development. (My wife insists that we run a single $100 ad on Facebook around Christmas each year, so I suppose you could call that our marketing "budget".) There also aren't any subscription shenanigans here and "free updates forever" is a business model that can actually work when you only have to feed one family with the proceeds. :D

The "Large iPad on the music stand" is still good advice. It's certainly the easiest (as far as manual labor and required equipment) to get set up and running. The absolute gold standard though is a giant touch-screen hovering on a monitor arm right in front of the keys! (The "Custom" zoom option supports this use case beautifully by allowing you to align the on-screen keyboard perfectly with the real one.) I've heard of generic Android-based "tablets" that go all the way up to 32" that I'd be curious to see in this configuration---touchscreens become harder to come by as the screen gets larger.

A non-touch-screen TV mounted in front of a keyboard is probably somewhere in the middle. Certainly, if you've already got the large screen, that may be the way to go!

Gurior
Posts: 3

Post by Gurior » 09-04-19 12:08 pm

Hi Nicholas,

Thank you for the fantastic reply !!

Indeed, the point of
adjusting the keyboard zoom so it matches the physical keys exactly. At that point you just hide the on-screen keyboard and the falling notes fall right to the physical keys
is an amazing idea that I haven't considered, making indeed the large-screen road the best option considering I already have it on hand.

At the moment, I can give a try with minimal investment (single Usb-B to Usb-C converter cable) a setup of synthesia + Android phone + large TV display, and will go from there.

As you (as well as an answer from PianoMarvel Support Contact) have pointed out, Latency might become an issue I'll take into account. My TV does allow an over-the-air "direct connect" functionality between devices such as a phone that doesn't rely on going through my wifi and router first, but I won't know until I try.
Improving any Latency issue that could rise up would require a tablet-like, touchscreen (to avoid keyboard and mouse) device WITH an HDMI output to wire into the TV. I'll burn this bridge when I get there...

In the meantime, thank you! I'll keep updated with pictures by next week :)

p.s.: good read with Feynman's, it stung a bit (academic researcher here) but was also a reassuring point of view ;)

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