Quick Take: Finally something rather decent for the iPad, but is anyone actually using this stuff?
As soon as the iPad was released, the market was flooded with a number of cheap software apps. It's called being "first to market" and as Microsoft proved through much of the 1980s and '90s, if you're first to market, your product doesn't have to be very good to make a mint.
Most of it wasn't. In fact, it was terrible. Most of the music apps were made by instadevelopers quickly shoving product out the door, and it showed.
Now many of the seasoned pros are getting involved, from Akai's SynthStation to the iElectribe from Korg. The iElectribe looks great (it uses the Electribe•R from Korg as its model), and version 1.1.1 allows full export from the iPad in the form of high-quality WAV files.
This is obviously a vast improvement over iElectribe v.1.0, which suffered some of those "first to market" compromises as well. The original edition didn't allow high-quality exporting or involved such complex workarounds that it made the whole process a chore. In fact, as people smarter than I have pointed out, getting anything off an iPad is a pain in the ass compared to simply networking a desktop and laptop or dumping everything onto flash drives. Everything is done via a gateway through iTunes, including things which have nothing to do with music at all. In the new iElectribe, patterns and such are converted into a WAV file, and then transferred with iTunes on your desktop station, where they can be imported into a DAW. As you can see, this is still not ideal.
So now that the big boys are involved, is the iPad finally a worthwhile edition to your arsenal of weapons? Not really. I can't see anyone motivated to buy an iPad just so they can make patterns on their couch. This is the sort of thing you'd get if you had an iPad anyway and wanted something to pass the time - and maybe some assurance that if you stumbled across something really great, it wouldn't be lost forever.
See, this is the problem when reviewing something like this. The newness of the media (the iPad being less than a year old) and the price of the app (twenty bucks) implies that it really shouldn't be judged against a mature and pricey DAW or softsynth. Put another way, you're either discussing music software or a toy. As music software, there are clear drawbacks here. As a toy? I've blown $20 on worse. Today.
Someone must be buying these things, but is anyone making music - I mean something serious that I can go out and buy rather than a novelty or publicity stunt - with them? "Music made on an iPad" is still music - nobody goes out and buys a track strictly because of what circuitboards it was made with. I've gotten a few press releases hyping iPhone- or iPad-made music, and once you get past the cheek of it (MUSIC ON YOUR PHONE WOW) and judge it like anything else, the music really doesn't distinguish itself. Or the iPad.
PC World's review pretty much says it all: "If you've always wanted to try a high-powered synthesizer but have always been turned away from price tags or complexity, I think this would be a good place start for its price." In other words, if you've never made music before and want something mildly amusing to do on the train, you could do worse than this. Doesn't really seem worthy of having the name "Korg" on it, but that's their call.
Where to Get It (Worldwide): $19.99 in the iTunes app store.
Technical Specs: Requires an iPad. And if you have an iPad, you probably have iTunes on your main machine anyway.