iPad docks seem to be a theme this year at NAMM. Basically, these are high-end iPad shells that provide audio and MIDI I/O functionality. Consider the iStudio from Behringer.
The iPad fits into the dock and serves both as the computer and screen. The dock provides several controls one would find in a small portable studio and then a host of standards I/O ports on the back, including XLR, 1/4″ audio, video and MIDI.
But no sooner had I encountered the Behringer model than I came across a very similar one from Alesis:
Here, the Alesis iO Dock is controlling the Korg iMS-20 iPad Synth. Like the Behringer, it has XLR, MIDI, unbalanced audio and video. They even both have footswitch inputs.
So which one is better? It’s not really something I can say. They seem more focused on people who want to use their iPad as a workstation rather than as a live instrument the way I do, which requires being able to move it freely (and switch to portrait mode) and lift it show to the audience. But now that several companies are coming out with docks, maybe we will see more variations.