Tablet for sheet music
Inspired by Laurie's article about the IPad pro, I'm thinking about getting a tablet for my sheet music. Living in a flat with my family forces me to limit my belongings, and I'm also tired of organizing all these prints and copies.
The drawback of the IPad and other LCD tablets is their glossy surface which reflects light from other sources and therefore is next to useless in sunlight and various indoor situations with strong external lightsources. A better option seems to be an e-reader based on e-ink technology. Battery lasts way longer, and no reflections on the display. I'd also use it for scientific literature which usually comes as epub and is tireful to read on a small display.
My current favorite would be the Onyx Boox Max 2. It comes with a 13,3" display and offers full WLAN and Bluetooth functionality. And it's exceptionally lightweight. Only thing I'd like to add is a backlight, which the alternatives in similar sizes don't include either. So one is still in need of an external light source. Reviews on the internet complain about how stupid an idea it would be to place the on-off-button at the given place, so if you put it on your music stand it would inevitably shut down. This isn't the case, since you can rotate the picture and put the tablet upside down on your stand.
The alternatives I was able to find include the PadMu (which is basically the same as the older version of the Boox Max, but offers the option of a double display which I do not need), the Sony DPT-RP1/B 13” Digital Paper (which I cannot find in stores currently), and the reMarkable. If I remember correctly there also exists a large version of the Kindle Oasis, but I don't think that this would be a comparable option for taking handwritten notes.
Anybody got experiences with one them? They're all not cheap, so I don't want to just luck out on one of these. Or, to put it differently, is there any product superior to the Boox Max 2 in your opinion? Note that I'm not interested in games, videos etc. where definitively a normal tablet would have it's advantages. It's simply about sheet music, taking notes, and reading other stuff (mainly PDF and epub) under various light settings.
Can you use ForScore software with all of those? That would be a huge differentiator, as useful as reading off of PDFs can be.
I'm very interested in this topic - but surely you can not add edits to an e-reader? How then would you note fingerings or shifts?
I use an iPad Pro with ForScore, and I have yet to find a lighting condition that makes it unusable. Never had an issue with glare.
e-INK based tablets are very attractive to me as batteries life can be over a month, are way more comfortable to use for extended period of time and don't emit light that can be distracting for the public. I however never used one for music, only books.
Lydia, glad to hear that - although battery life still outbeats the functionality of the the iPad for me. With the two tablets I own as well as with the two laptops we use in our family, its somehow different.
Another benefit for reading music from the tablet is that you can do the page turning with a foot pedal. I could test the PageFlip Firefly and it's awesome! (Sure a cheaper one would to the same...)
I am like you, Nuuska, with the Boox Max in the radar. I currently use a 10.1 Android Tablet with full version of Mobile Sheets. I am happy about that configuration, but a 13.3 screen with e-ink would be welcome (although expensive. The Boox runs at 800USD and I don't think it's worth that in hardware or software).
Carlos, a couple of days would already be okay, compared to maybe 8 hrs of the iPad pro. If used several hours per day my 6" Kindle reader won't last longer either.
I have a Yoga (heavy, but fast and full featured editing.) I recently purchased an RCA pro 12” android tablet for around $130 refurbed. I have had to put my library on Google drive due to pdf formatting issues that I’ve never encountered before. I put the library on my lenovo and synced it to drive to get it to work on both.
Might be a solution as long as you do not have to play outside. If the screen protector does as expected. How long is it's battery lifespan until recharge?
Several hours. In reading mode, it’s not processing, so low energy consumption.
With several hours,you mean rather three or rather ten hours? (If the brightness of the screen is in the upper third)
I'm not persuaded by the Boox Max 2 at this point, though it's a very promising initial effort. I'd take another look in a year or two as they develop the product.
I want something that's not going to be totally obsolete in 3 years. I'm not buying a tablet that can't do OS upgrades, etc. It's bad enough you can't replace the battery in a tablet.
I have been using a Samsung Galaxy Note Pro with an S-pen, Mobilesheets Pro and a Pageflip Firefly page turner. I love being able to annotate and edit my music and especially helpful is taking a photo of sheetmusic, convert it to a pdf and display it as a full screen piece. That takes all of a couple of minutes.
Skip, the Microsoft Surface Pro runs on Windows 10. The usual sheet music apps run on Android. I'm no tech geek at all, so please forgive me the stupid question.
Did it. 14 days return policy, so what... I'll keep you tuned!
Nuuska, MusicSheets, Mobilenotes and a couple of others I've seen are all compatible with Windows 10 devices. Also, Musicsheets has a companion app for Windows to sync your music and library with your Android device to save and store your music. It's a separate app from the Windows music reader version.
Bigger is better! I'm a little jealous of a Surface 15, which is upgradeable.
I have a related question. These devices are great, and yet sometimes they hesitate as they manage memory. This is fine if you’re surfing the web or reading a book, but page turns have to be absolutely reliable, every time. Have any of you actually gone for the next page and had the device make you wait while it “thinks?” Just curious....
A little delay may be even good for better control, as long as it is not too much. The Boox can be set to a mode with shorter delay, but then it doesn't refresh the whole page before showing the next, which can lead to some kind of memory shadow. But as much as I could see on several videos, the normal delay should be fine for sheet music page turns. An analogue page turn also takes it's time, and you'll never have to get your hands off the instrument again.
But anyway I'll keep you updated - either if I'll send it back immediately, or after a few weeks of usage. There are already several hundred files waiting for an upload!
I don't think any tablet will be immune to lag at one point or another. My wife's iPad Pro will lag a page turn if she has other apps open in the background, some being more memory or processor hogs than others.
Tom, I've got to store 1,2 meters of piano sheet music, 1,35 meters of violin sheet music, and about 40 centimeters of viola music. About 50% are copies and printouts, and the pile is growing rapidly thanks to ensemble playing and Petrucci Library. I don't mind the money if it is about the purchase of contemporary or modern classical music, but first I don't like markings in the originals, and second the rapidly increasing copy/printout section is a pain to organize. (My overloaded shelf still lacks a built in search function.) I'd be happy if the Boox would enable me to reduce or even dump this section!
(Not that I'd consider a sheet music pile of not even three meters as "too much" - but ask my wife.... and it's growing...)
(... and it's a bit tricky always having the right scores with you, no matter if for strings ensemble, orchestra 1, orchestra 2, violin lesson or occasional viola lesson... especially when there's no time to prepare, but always a hurry to get home from work, grab some stuff, and arriving on site just in time when all the rest is already done with tuning...)
But I also do understand thse who stick to paper and pencil. There is a reason why these reMarkable, Boox max etc. claim to be "like real paper"...
I’m still not a 100% convert. Agree with the small and slow and squinty comments.
I will be very interested on your hands-on review of the Boox Max, Nuuska. Let us know when you get it.
Tom, on my 12" screen when I am using the tablet in portrait mode, standard size sheet music is displayed at original size because I crop the borders, no squinting. Many musicians use 10" tablets in landscape with larger fonts than standard sheetmusic. I normally have to use reading glasses for playing but now that I use the tablet in landscape mode and scroll half pages, my music is so much larger than normal I no longer have to use my reading glasses. That's a definite plus for me.
Skip- good points. I use an old copy of acrobat to crop and rotate on my mac and windows laptops.
Edward, true with the RCA Pro and obsolescence. I got my Samsung Galaxy Note pro 12" off ebay for $150 to experiment with a tablet for sheetmusic use and although it is still on Android 5.0.2 and will remain so, I've been using it over a year now with no app or software issues, and don't foresee any in the near future.
To hell with tablets. Why not just get a laptop with a touch-sensitive screen? Nice screen and you could convert a music stand to a custom holder. Battery life ... is that the issue? TigerDirect has some nice refurbished 2-in-1 convertibles coming in under $600.
Paul, I have a touch screen 2-in-1 14" screen Asus laptop that has great stylus function that I've tried as a music reader and while it performs as well if not better than a tablet, it is heavier and just not quite as comfortable to handle or toss in a music bag.
Paul, is there any dedicated sheet music reader app that would run on win10? Actually I own a hp spectre convertible and tried to use it that way before starting up the eReader experiment, but I didn't now how to get my annotations onto the pdf files...
Paul, My lenovo touchscreen yoga laptop is sooo heavy and it scares me when it’s teetering on a music stand.
Edward surely that depends on the stand. But I also have in mind non-solo use where your stand will be at the shorter height for seated playing.
Timothy did you write all your own backing tracks or are you using a robot/app (such as iRealPro).
As far as dedicated software, I don't know about that. I thought MobileSheets had a Windows app, but I'm not sure. There are lots of programs that will allow you to mark up PDF. As you might expect the better ones are offered by Adobe.
Latest findings: there is a dedicated MusicSheets version for Win10. And the best: all devices (no matter if Win10 PC or Android tablet) can be synchronized via Google drive.
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