Saturday, October 9, 2010

Practicing with the iPad

The St Peter's Chamber orchestra is performing this weekend, and I'm principal violist. It's a small orchestra still in the "start up" phase, so there is no librarian. That means the responsibility of music distribution falls to the principals. I like to just email PDFs to my section and then bring the originals to the first rehearsal. Two of the three pieces were available from IMSLP and the other was a quick scan. I figured since I had the PDF versions, I would give the iPad a chance. After two days of trying to view the music that way, I gave up. It's just too small.

I have the PDFs in UnrealBook (on recommendation of choirguy at the TechInMusicEd blog, it’s his current favorite).  They display nicely in portrait, just small.  In landscape, the music becomes more readable, but the program doesn’t really handle scrolling well.  Sure, you can grab the music and drag it up to see the bottom half of the page, but a tap is all it takes to turn to the next page.  Half the time, the app thought my attempts at sliding to move the music were really taps and I ended up going forwards or backwards pages when all I wanted was to see the music on the bottom half of the page.  This just reinforces my desire to find a bigger screened tablet.  The problem is, 12” widescreen is the new norm, and I’ve already seen that it doesn’t add anything to the overall size of a full sheet of music. 

Oh for a 13” 4:3 tablet.  With 10 hours of battery.  And a core i5 processor, with 4GB of RAM.  Less than an inch thick.  Under 3 pounds.  That would be nice.


  1. I assume you have heard of the Kno by now, but if not, here you go. Pair it will the blue tooth AirTurn and it seems like this would be the perfect solution for you :D -Julie

  2. I've been watching the Kno very closely, as it is the ideal form factor, but there are still several issues.

    1. It's being heavily marketed at college students, so there's not a lot of information available about alternate use-cases.

    2. The custom linux OS is a huge unkown. We know what they want to show off about how it will work for college students. They have talked about the ability to upload your own PDF's but even then, they admit annotation might not be possible on all PDFs.

    3. They have already admitted that the bluetooth stack will be incomplete at shipping and HID support will not be added until a later firmware update. I highly doubt the AirTurn will work with whatever PDF software they have, even if you can get it to pair.

    I'm on the advisory panel (which doesn't really mean much), but I have tried to keep up with all the news coming from them, including via Facebook and Twitter. It's an intriguing product, but I want to see some in the wild being used by people other than college students before I get too excited.