For about the last 5 months I've been wanting to get a Novation Launchpad but I kept putting it off because I wasn't sure if it would turn out to be an expensive gimmick.
Well I'm about to buy a new Mac Pro and that's going to be expensive. I figured that, after that I do that, it's going to be very hard to justify buying anything & this was my last chance. So, yesterday, I went to Dawsons in Reading and picked one up.
So far I'm very pleased with it. Clip launching in Live is much easier than using a mouse. I often found it very hard to deactivate one clip and launch another, in a different track, using the mouse and that becomes trivial with the Launchpad. From this admission you can tell I am not a hardcore gamer. The mixer mode looked useless in the video's I've seen but, in fact, I think it could be useful when I'm more used to it.
For the basic functionality I'd say the Launchpad is great, but probably not worth £149 to me. But I don't regret the purchase because I've already found extra value in two ways:
First I played with StepSeq (Novations Max for Live sequencer for Launchpad users), you get some idea what monome users have been enjoying all this time. StepSeq is a bit rough around the edges (it is a beta) and I found it messed with the other modes of the Launchpad when I was using it. But it hints at what I might be able to do with my own Max for Live devices. I have some specific things in mind that I will be trying to develop in the next month.
Second I've found that the Launchpad actually makes a better keyboard for playing LoopShifter than my keyboards. I'm a bit of a LoopShifter freak so this is actually quite cool. I've found that it's easier to remember clusters of good regions in the shifter and quickly swing between them. It makes Loopshifter into a more playable instrument for me.
To that end here's a piece I made last night playing 3 Loopshifter's directly with the Launchpad. Effects used are Dubstation on a send, fed from the 3 Loopshifters, and Eos on the master channel (along with compression & limiting).
The only downsides of the Launchpad I can see so far are that (i) it's not a class-compliant USB device so it requires a driver from Novation, (ii) it's only an 8x8 grid and you quickly realise a Launchpad-128 or Launchpad-256 would be better :)