Having now spent quite a few hours using the Akai Force I thought I would post a story so far report.
Initially, I spent a lot of time auditioning the built-in demo tracks which are excellent and give a good idea of the sonic possibilities available in the box. Obviously, the instant gratification offered by well-crafted demos gives you and the rest of the family, of course, a chance to have a play! All in all, when I was finally able to get my teeth stuck in, I'm really enjoying this new tool and its potential. On a very basic level, it's great as a pure drum/bass backing sequencer, it fills a void that I have been looking to fill for some time. I've tried various tablet apps over the years without really finding a system that I felt comfortable with as a serious contender. Admittedly, I only have Android devices that have not been particularly well-served in this department, with Apple winning the day with music apps. I'm not going into the Android/Apple what's the best argument here and besides, I still don't believe an app on any platform was going to win me over anyway.
I know that the Force has its critics but I have to say I think it shines in many areas and I see it as a long term investment and a tool, I might go on to say musical instrument that I'll use a lot. It's more than just an MPC as it offers a lot more performance potential, having 64 pads rather than the usual 16 on an MPC, offering much more scope for tuned instruments.
Obviously, the fact that it is a stand-alone unit and is an excellent sound playback source. The onboard plugins are really great and there's good potential for expansion too.
Although it is by default geared towards EDM genres, certainly going by the demos and included drum sounds, I can see that it has more to offer. There are a number of kits available to buy with other genres in mind and of course custom kits can be created with ease. I experimented with recording guitar lines in realtime through the onboard effects and was really impressed with the results. It was also great for recording vocal lines. I can see that it has great potential as a sketch pad for developing song ideas into a full-length guide template that could be mixed exported to WAV and imported into your DAW to create a finished piece.
It appears that the promised arranger/song mode could be just around the corner too. A beta version was on demo at the recent Winter NAMM show. It will be available free to all Force owners during Q1 according to Akai. It seems that they will also deliver a new instrument plugin with this update in the form of a drum synthesizer. This was also demoed at the show. It's certainly looking promising for Force users. Akai launched their new MPC (MPC One) at NAMM so it's reassuring to know that the Force is still being actively developed alongside newer products and it was intimated that the Force is seen as a long term product and there are many more exciting updates in the pipeline.
I guess with all of these tools it really comes down to is will it actually become an essential part of your writing process. A lot of what I've written is an overview of the features I can see have potential but in the real world we'll have to see how I'll use it in the real world.