The CDP-S150 is a compact 88-key digital piano that sounds great and is easy to play. It’s also great for lessons.
*At the time of publication, the price was $480.
The Casio CDP-S150 is one of the slimmest keyboards available under $500, yet it still delivers an accurate piano feel (aka its key action, which we’ll discuss below), as well as great sounds and useful features for students/teachers such as a duet mode to play a lesson together. This piano doesn’t have a digital display, but adjusting sounds and other functions is still fairly easy. The only real downside is the lack of Bluetooth to connect it wirelessly to a mobile device to use Casio’s Chordana Play app, which provides access to additional controls and features; you should use the less convenient USB Type-B port for a wired connection instead.
The FP-10 offers the best playability and piano sounds for the price, but its availability has ranged from limited to non-existent.
*At the time of publication, the price was $0.
Some of our testers (including me) slightly preferred the Roland FP-10 over the Casio CDP-S150 for its more authentic piano feel and precise sounds. It has Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to a mobile device running Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app, but its physical controls are far less intuitive than those of the CDP-S150. Still, the FP-10 would probably be our first choice if it weren’t for the fact that its availability is too inconsistent. If you can find one, take it. Otherwise, the Casio is a top pick.
Alesis Recital Pro
The Recital Pro is an affordable piano that’s easy to use and sacrifices only a little in feel and performance characteristics.
While the Alesis Recital Pro doesn’t sound as good or play as well as our other picks, it’s clearly standout value. It typically costs about $100 less than the Casio CDP-S150, and this saving is somewhat evident in the quality of sounds produced by this piano. But thanks to its intuitive button design and LCD display, this keyboard is the easiest to use of our picks. It doesn’t come with a sustain pedal, so it requires an additional purchase of around $20 to make it fully functional.