I have been looking at getting a new dedicated MIDI controller for my DAW for awhile, and finally settled on the Hammer 88. I had a fairly short list of what I wanted in a controller: 88 keys, weighted hammer action, pitch and mod wheel, sustain and expression inputs.
The pitch and mod wheel knocked a lot of others out, although I suppose I could have gotten used to a joystick or other controller.
And I didn't really need DAW transports. Again, although nice, I can control logic from my iPad. And I didn't need any drum pads. If I want drums, I'll play my v-drums instead, which are a lot more fun and satisfying anyway.
Anyway, it arrived today and I have been playing around with it for a bit now, and I would have to say I think I will be very satisfied with it.
Hooking it up was a breeze, it did not required any drivers, just connected the UDB cable. It does come with software for editing parameters, CC messages, zones (up to 4) and the like. Velocity curve is a bit limited, you cannot draw out your own curve on it, but it has: Hard, Soft 1, Soft 2, Linear, and 3 fixed (64, 100 and 127).
The keys feel decent, and I would say they are very good for the price, and it is quite playable. It took a little adjusting from my Roland but I settled in to them fairly quickly. I will play around with some of the different velocity curves and see how that changes things, but it feels quite responsive with the default.
It comes with enough software to get anyone started:
Pro Tools First
Ableton Live Lite
Mini Grand (Pianos)
Velvet (Electric Pianos)
Eighty Eight Ensemble (Steinway Grand)
Touch Loops (Loops)
It does not come with a disc, but there are codes and a download link. I will give the instruments a try, but I don't really need the other DAW software or the loops.
It seems very solid, and does not feel cheap. A nice bonus, it has a detachable music stand.
At $400 it's worth a look at for a MIDI controller, and a nice entry point for a beginner who wants to go the computer/tablet VST route instead of a DP.