Hardware

Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard Review

The Rock Band 3 Wireless KeyboardThe official Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard from Harmonix and Mad Catz is a sturdy, well-built music game peripheral that features 25 full-sized keys, a touch strip that provides pitch bending capabilities and a design that can be played as a keytar or on a tabletop.

The biggest benefit of the Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard is the ability to play the all-new, more realistic Pro Keys mode available in the latest version of the game. This challenging mode closely simulates playing a full-size keyboard, especially at higher difficulties. Read More...

Players that do well in Pro Mode and want to translate their skills to real world performance or recording can do so with the Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard thanks to a MIDI out port that allows it to communicate with many popular audio software titles.

The Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard represents an extremely low-cost entry point to the world of digital performance and recording, however Players will need a MIDI-capable soundcard or a MIDI to USB adapter to use the peripheral with their PC or Mac, neither of which is included in the package.

The Keyboard Features a MIDI OutputThe pressure-sensitive keys themselves carry a nice weight and have very smooth action and are separated into colour-coded sections. Players that choose to play Keys rather than Pro Keys will only be tasked with operating five specific keys.

One of the best features of using a Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard just so happens to be one that makes Rock Band more accessible to physically challenged or one-handed players. You can use the keyboard to play the guitar or bass parts of any song in the Rock Band library at any difficulty, without having to strum.

On the downside, left-handed players will be forced to use the keyboard on their lap or a tabletop because of the way the unit was designed. Also, the touch strip and button used to trigger Overdrive are awkward to reach when not playing keytar style. The unit could have benefited from a second touch strip and Overdrive button in a more central location.

The biggest downfall at the time of launch is a simple lack of content that features a keyboard part. Just over 60 of the more than 2100 songs available for Rock Band have one at this time. There is content in the pipeline, though it remains unclear if older songs with real life keyboard parts previously charted to guitar or bass will be updated in the future.

From those that have difficulty playing Rock Band at all to those aspiring to play professional-level keyboards, the Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard is an amazingly well-built peripheral that represents an excellent value proposition because of its sheer versatility.

Positives:

+ Very Solid Build Quality
+ Functions as a Real MIDI Controller
+ Allows Realistic Pro Keys Play
+ Makes Rock Band More Accessible


Negatives:


- Left-Handed Players Can’t Play as a Keytar
- Lack of Content with Keyboard Parts at Launch
- Awkward Touch Strip and Overdrive Button Location


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Game Forward Score: 4/5

Brian J. Papineau > Game Forward

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Rock Band 3 Wireless Keyboard (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) Quick Facts:

Genre: Hardware / Peripheral
Developer: Harmonix / Mad Catz
Publisher: MTV Games
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Price: $129 USD with Game Software / $79 USD Stand-Alone
ESRB Rating: N/A