Today was the Intel Developer keynote, a place where Intel puffs out its chest and talks about cool stuff that you’ll see in the coming year or so. And one of those things comes from Thud Rumble, home of Qbert and also a technological hotbed for the last couple of years or so. Finally bearing fruit, Thud Rumble was on hand to show off the Invader mixer, the brainchild of Thud Rumbler DJ Hard Rich, and is essentially a small PC built into a mixer with a touch screen, which is a different take on the all-in-one DJing idea.
Looking at the pictures and reading the story over at Engadget, what you have is essentially a tiny Intel PC attached to a small touch screen running Windows 10 and Traktor Scratch Pro and an NI audio interface, all encased in what I assume is a MIDI control surface in a mixer sized case. This case is planned to smaller so that they can be slipped into a backpack, thus negating the need to carry mixer and laptop — just pack the Invader and you’re good to go.
Right now, this is strictly a proof of concept prototype with NI audio interfaces hanging out the back of the box. But apparently NI is working with Thud Rumble to develop an interface that will sit inside the case. It’s also planned that the Invader will also run as a regular mixer as well.
And while this is currently running with Traktor, the Invader is planned to be software agnostic (albeit Windows only) and should able to run any software, and will have USB and HDMI ports so that you can run your favourite software, touch interface permitting of course.
It’s planned to offer many options when ordering your Invader, so that you can personalise it to suit your needs. Be it buttons or pads, colour, or putting your logo right onto the faceplate, Thud Rumble will be able to make the Invader of your dreams.
So to price — an Invader with built in computer, touch screen, and audio interface is planned to run to $1699, a number that might make many very happy to drag along a laptop to a gig.
The Invader — my thoughts
Hats off to Hard Rich for putting this together. It’s an entirely logical idea that to this point has been well executed. There will always be usability issues though — the first one for me is the physical size of the unit, which is governed by the size of the touch screen and making it work in a harsh DJ environment. And the Invader is as deep as a turntable and as wide as a 4 channel mixer, i.e. bigger than the laptop that it aims to displace. And this will always an issue for anyone wanting to do such a project. Speaking of which (because if I don’t somebody else will)…
At the back of last year, DJ Techtools ran a story about the OBMFLM4, and home-brew but decidedly polished project that works in much the same way as the Invader, but is in a much more advanced state. It’s a crazy amount of controls crammed into a small space, but as the video shows it’s fully working with VirtualDJ, DVS, and video too.
I find myself conflicted about putting a full laptop in a product. DJ interfaces are notoriously crammed to the gills, so it’s going to take some work from the likes of NI and Serato to make small screen friendly touch layouts. All that stuff they put on one laptop screen could be split across a few screens accessible with a single swipe. And things like track searches need to be thought about too, i.e. offering an onscreen keyboard. There has to be a more compelling reason to use one of these other than you can leave your laptop at home, which we all know will still come along for the ride.
It is however early days yet, with a proposed end of the year delivery deadline that I feel is a tad optimistic. But having the Intel and Thud Rumble brands behind it gives some clout when it comes to twisting the arms of the DJ industry to make their software more usable on a touchscreen.
I have a long list of questions in with Hard Rich. And please feel free to ask your own as I’m sure the guys at Thud Rumble will be watching.
Despite my initial reservations, I wholeheartedly applaud Thud Rumble for pushing forward with their vision and daring to change the DJ scene. I’ll be following this with some interest.
Check out the original story over at Engadget.