Digital Piano Buying Guide
Digital piano or keyboard? I can tell you that you will definitely want a digital piano, and NOT a keyboard. if you want to learn to play the piano, get a digital or an acoustic instrument. Here is the digital piano buying guide for everyone who want to buy piano. In general, I'd look for the following at a minimum:
1) Action that is similiar to an acoustic-By that, I mean the feel that you have when you press the key down, and the key's response when you release it should feel like an acoustic piano. Keyboards do not have this same feel, which is why I don't recommend keyboards for people who are learning piano, it will screw up the development of your touch. With an acoustic, the key will spring back when you release it. When you press down, the key will respond according to the pressure you put on it, for example, if you press softly, you get a soft tone and if you hit the key hard, you get loudness. Pianists have to learn how to adjust their touch so that they get the desired volume when they want it with each finger, and a keyboard does nothing to help you develop that.
2) Get the full 88 keys. Do not get an abbreviated keyboard. I know that people for some reason don't think beginners require a full keyboard, but I cannot for the life of me think of one benefit to not learning on an instrument with 88 keys. Before electronic keyboards, heck, the 88 was all there was, so you learned on that. All pianos that are used for performance purposes are 88 keys, so it makes no sense to me to learn on something that isn't like what you'd actually have to play. It makes a difference once you get past beginner status. If you get a shorter keyboard, it will quite possibly confuse you once you start to play more complex pieces, and will not help you when you do have to play on a full keyboard. So, I say, for what my opinion is worth, do it right the first time, and get the full keyboard.
3) Sit down and play it. If you cannot really play the piano, just sit down and run your fingers up and down the keyboard as best you can. Do you like the feel? Does it feel like a piano? Then wander over to an accoustic piano, and play that, and compare the feel. Make sure the action is close. It is for this reason I would recommend that you go to a dealer that sells pianos so that you can compare the different feelings. This will be important since you are a beginner, and won't really have anything to compare to if you go to a store that sells only keyboards. The sales people can also help you to compare the action as well, and give you some pointers. Make sure the bench is okay too. Bench height/width makes a difference.
Once you've cleared these requirements, then you can look at other things, like pricing, sound, features offered, like different type of sounds. These options are, of course, dependent on your individual requirements. If you are a composer or arranger, you'll have different requirements than someone like myself, who simply plays but doesn't do much else with it. But the above items are, I think the absolute BARE minimum you need to find a suitable instrument for you.