I wanted to throw this idea out there since we all have different needs on an arranger/workstation.
What if manufacturers were to make a “perfect” hardware keyboard. It must have excellent build and key feel, pitch bend and modulation, assignable sliders, nubs, and switches and, peddle jacks, a good display, multiple audio outputs and inputs and there must be buttons that can be used for arranger functions.
Then the user can choose what he or she wants on the keyboard by choosing from available software from the manufacturer that can be loaded on to the keyboard. So if you want styles and everything having to do with styles, you just buy that software. Remember that the keyboard would have been setup to accommodate arranger functions. If you want a vocal harmonizer then get the software for that.
The keyboard hardware should also come with slots that can accommodate sampling, and MP3 player and other features that may require a small additional hardware accessory.
So the user would only choose features that he or she would want. You don’t have to pay extra for things you don’t want. So I don’t have to pay for a vocal harmonizer if I don’t want it and another person would not have to pay for a sampler if they don’t want it.
Such a keyboard hardware would have to be in 3 different models, 61, 76 and 88 keys. Speakers should be easily attachable. It should have connectivity like MIDI, USB a hard drive (or maybe that can be optional). The USB drive should be able to handle direct connectivity to the computer, a CD and or DVD drive thumb drive.
The price for this Keyboard hardware should be very low as users have to also pay for the different software they desire.
Creating one of these would not mean that people would stop buying any later offerings of such a hardware keyboard. As technology increases and gets cheaper, more things can be added on the basic instrument. For example, and this is just one example, the amount of programs that would be able to run on the keyboard at the same time is something that can be increased in a new offering.
The basic keyboard hardware can come with sounds and any specialized sounds and be had by getting CD specifically with those sounds. The manufactures would have to decide if they want to make the keyboard hardware able to read third party applications (but may be the market would determine that)?
Keyboard manufacturers already have software in their keyboard; they just have every thing package on one instrument.
Another advantage of such a keyboard hardware is that it could have a sequencer if you want it and substantial sound editing if you want it all by getting the relevant software.
Naturally, the design of such a product would be critical to its success, but I know with forums like this one and different R and D techniques, manufacturers can figure it out at a low cost.