I've been playing the piano on and off for more than a decade, and at home I have the scrappiest, messiest folder of sheet music you've ever seen. It's culled from a variety of sources (photocopied jazz standards, out-of-copyright classics, and rough MIDI transcriptions), and covered in scathing notes-to-self ("NO PEDAL YOU COWARD"). It's battered and beloved, but my god, I'm pretty sure I'd swap it in a heartbeat for the Gvido — a new, dual-screen E Ink device that's designed to hold thousands of digital scores.
The GVIDO holds thousands of songs and supports hand notation
Well, okay, maybe it'd take more than a heartbeat for me to decide, but the Gvido is certainly an interesting prospect. It's built by Japanese firm Terrada Music, who unveiled the device earlier this month. It sports two 13.3-inch E Ink displays, comes with 8GB of internal memory (and microSD), and weighs 650 grams — about half the weight of a MacBook Air. It charges via microUSB and is compatible with Wacom pens for making notes on the score. You turn pages with a touch panel on the side of the device.
All this sounds brilliant. Imagine, with the Gvido you could download a bunch public domain sheet music, load up the device, and have all the sheet music you're going to need for years in a single place. The E Ink displays mean it'll last a good while on a single charge, and the microSD slot means you'll never run out of space.
However, I do have a few misgivings. For a start, the demo video above makes the Gvido look pretty slow to use. If you're whipping through something with a fast tempo you can't afford to wait for the E Ink to refresh when it would be quicker to turn a physical page. (Side note: the score in the video is for Moonlight Sonata, but that's not what's being played.) Similarly, it's not clear how you navigate between scores, and while it's easy to flick through a physical book, it might be frustrating to have to tap, tap, tap, through a massive index of music on a slow E Ink screen.
and what about the price?
Price is also an unknown. Liliputing, which first spotted the Gvido, points out that a device with a single 13.3-inch E Ink display sells for $800, so doubling the number of screens certainly isn't going to be much cheaper. And at that price, you may as well buy a Surface and the fantastic StaffPad software.
These quibbles aside, though, this is certainly some very interesting hardware. According to Terrada Music's press release the company has only recently started exhibiting the Gvido, first at the music industry conference Midem earlier this month. Hopefully we'll find out more about the product when it launches — although Terrada hasn't put a date on that yet. Hopefully when they do we'll find out how we're supposed to pronounce "Gvido" too.