Inexpensive, portable hardware for electronic music usually comes short on the features. A beginner 25-key MIDI keyboard, for example, isn't going to get you very far towards making big music, even if it does fit in your backpack. Arturia's new Beatstep is remarkable because manages to put both a software controller and an versatile sequencer in one portable package, all for $125.
Beatstep has two distinct modes on a single tiny piece of hardware. In MIDI mode the 16 pads can be used to trigger clips in software like Ableton Live. Alternatively, Beatstep can be used as an analog step sequencer for generating baselines, beats or backing tracks. In the later mode, it's got MIDI, USB, and CV connectivity so you you can use it with everything from your computer to your iPad to your analog synthesizer rig.
Combo gadgets—especially cheap ones—are frequently not very good at anything. Let's hope Arturia's got quality that matches its versatility. [Arturia]