Force of nature!
I've for some time considered the potential of a playback sampling trigger unit like the Native Instrument Maschine or similar. I've normally come to the conclusion that, although I like the idea of triggering samples and sounds, I wasn't sure that I could put it to use. I've also thought that some kind of stand-alone sequencer/production system to develop ideas, as well as use as a live playback unit, would be great. At the beginning of the year, Akai released their latest development following the MPC format in the form of the Force.
Along with the features I've previously mentioned it adds a lot more, including a comprehensive stand-alone production environment with a built-in drum machine, synthesizers, sample playback and more besides. There's also been a number of software revisions, adding even more useful features. Akai has also talked about adding a linear song mode in a future update and I understand that there's a beta program in progress already...watch this space. The fact that the Force does not require a computer to operate is probably one of its most compelling features compared to most of the competition.
Up until recently, the price was a little too steep to justify taking the plunge but since there seems to have been a price reduction of over 20% it became a bit more sensible. Andertons to the rescue again and in stock and delivered the next day (today). I've yet to work out whether this will be permanently studio based or perhaps floating between the house and studio - we'll see on that for the moment.