In the spirit of taking things to a level of rock-like reliability, extreme portability, reasonable cost, and highly usable - well, that last one might need some work just yet..... let me bring to you this little goodie:
4 inches by 4 inches (sans any input/output devices) - that's about the size of a small stompbox, yet it has more horsepower than most laptops of just 3 years ago. I leave it to you to figure out how to harness such a tasty morsel, but I see a complete, on-stage-ready, MIDI control rig; monitoring mixer; multi-channel recording device; and other things I'm probably missing at the moment. Needs work to make it all happen, but when you consider how customizable it is, and how low the entry cost is, you can't just shrug your sholders and brush it off - things like this are gonna become staple go-to rigs in the not-too-distant future, mark my words.
Rule #1: All Lives Are Final. Make sure that the life you have just been issued is appropriate for your needs, before departing the womb.
Rule #2: In case you don't like the life you have, see Rule #1.
I can see this replacing the costly Roland and Axom units quite nicely, along with allowing you to run backing tracks or vstis live to fill out the sound on stage.
And that's a lot cheaper than the small industrial PCs out there...and again, significantly cheaper. You could even justify one as a spare. Extra fans and a rugged case...hmmm...
The mind wanders at the potential for a device like this...
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