Let’s have a more in-depth look at the different kinds of digital keyboards.
Digital pianos and organs
Digital pianos and organs for home use come in 2 types. Portable models and upright and brand models. In my experience out of these 2, the upright and grand models produce a beautiful piano sound and usually have features like weighted key action and touch sensitivity which brings you really close to the experience of playing a real acoustic piano.
The advantage of a portable digital piano is that, well, it is more portable. Both these types of keyboards come with built-in speakers although the quality of the sound and speakers on the upright model will be far superior to the portable models. You may overcome this disadvantage by using an external amplifier of your own. What matters at the end of the day is the quality of the sample piano sounds that your digital keyboard is loaded with. The better the quality, the more realistic your keyboard will sound.
Most of the upright digital pianos as well as the portable ones offer other sound options such as electric piano, acoustic piano, honky-tonk piano and other instruments like strings, flute, guitar etc. The upright models are already propped up on their own legs and the portable ones also usually come with the music rack, a stand and a plug-in pedal.
You may also have a choice between the size of the keyboard. You can choose between 61, 73 or and 88 key model. Buying a smaller size may allow you to save some more money.
As far as the playing and learning is concerned, this option is not something that should concern many piano enthusiasts. Arrangers are basically digital keyboards that have a lot of different sounds and accompaniment features loaded onto them. They might not have the best acoustic piano samplers as an arranger is not specifically meant for piano playing but for doing lots of other things. For example, you can create a one-man band with using features like automatic drums, bass, accompaniments, hundreds of sound effects and instruments as well as recording and playback capability. Low-end models can be quite inexpensive and quite portable.
Arrangers can be a lot of fun for someone who is looking to experiments with sounds and creating sound effects as well as recording different musical instruments. Examples of people who use arrangers are sound technicians, sound artists, disc jockeys etc.
Just the name should tell you everything that you need to know about these kind of digital keyboards. Stage pianos are meant for performing on stage and offer you the best of professional digital piano sound. A stage piano is the choice for professional as well as semiprofessional piano players who is going to be playing in a band, doing a solo piano act or doing gigs around the town. Digital stage piano does not have built-in speakers and you need to use an external amplifier and speaker of your own. However, you can plug in a pair of headphones and hear yourself at all times. The function of a stage piano is simple. It is meant to be an alternative to a larger and heavier acoustic piano and meant to sound great. The sound sampling of the stage piano is superior to perhaps all of the kinds of digital keyboard. It is also complete with features like weighted action keys and touch sensitivity that make the stage piano as close to an acoustic piano playing experience as you can get. All stage pianos come with a music track and a sustain pedal. You might need to purchase the necessary accessories separately.
Again this is an option that most piano enthusiasts who want to learn piano to play at home or even professionally should not concern themselves with. A workstation is essentially a computer built into a keyboard and has the capability of performing a myriad of different functions. A workstation basically has everything. It has top-of-the-line sound samples, sequencing ability, recording and editing as well as compatibility and integration with other keyboards and computers. Workstations also come in 61, 73 and 88 key models. Workstations can be quite expensive but if you have lofty mystical dreams and goals, this might be what you want to try out.
I remember the time that almost any digital keyboard was referred to as a synthesizer. Simply because that these were perhaps the first and the most common kind of digital pianos to suffice. There were not many options for digital pianos. The latest technology of sampled piano sounds was not present. So any digital keyboard was actually a synthesizer that used electronic circuits 2 synthesize and create artificial piano sounds as well as other instruments. Needless to say, in the earlier models, the sound was nowhere close to what an acoustic piano should sound like. With the advent in technology, synthesizers have come a very long way. You can still buy a good old synthesizer and manipulate reform, filter and work with both analog and digital sounds. The modern versions of synthesizers come with more sounds to work with than the older models. However, once again the larger purpose of the synthesizer is not to replicate or produce authentic piano sound. It is not also something that is meant to render a complete piano playing experience. Synthesizers are a great instruments that are used by sound artists that allows them to create almost any possible some including beats and hoops and lips.
Keyboards were a huge hit with pop groups because of the wide spectrum of backing support they could provide. They still are.
If your idea of purchasing a digital keyboard is to have fun with sounds and do things like mixing and creating new sound effects, then a synthesizer maybe the option for you. Synthesizers wary a great deal in their models and price range. You can pick up something for a very reasonable price. Do not expect to find actions like weighted action and touch sensitivity unless you choose a very high end model. This is simply because like I already said, the main function of the synthesizer is not to replicate the piano playing experience. You can however find lots of good preset sounds even if they do not match the sound of a real piano.