For the Record: Beaterator iPhone review -- is it worth $2.99?

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As technology moves forward, we've found new and interesting ways to make, record and brainstorm music on the go. There has been a flood of music production and recording applications for devices like the iPhone/iPod Touch, Nintendo DS, PSP and others. Finding worthwhile applications is another story, so starting today we're pleased to introduce For the Record, a new weekly feature where we find and work with some of these new forms of music creation.

This week: Beaterator. If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch and make music, chances are you've attempted to delve into the App Store looking for something to hold your attention on long bus rides, but left overwhelmed and unfulfilled. Beaterator tries to change that by offering a fully functional loop sequencer created by Timbaland and developer Rockstar Games.

Even keeping in mind this was initially released on the PSP, it's still difficult to accept the terrible layout and control offered on the touchscreen.

Anyone that has used Apple's mobile device knows developers have an uncanny knack of creating bad and unusable interfaces. Beaterator, unfortunately, is no exception. While you'll get a handy help interface, you won't get a full-fledged tutorial, which is a shame because the learning curve here is exceptionally large. In fact, it'll take more than a few minutes just to figure out how to select and use samples, and from there, the experience essentially stops.

All that said, Beaterator is a massive sample and loop library. It functions similar to other digital samplers in that you load the sample and it repeats until you tell it to stop. Be warned though, the interface might make you think you're getting a fully-fledged drum machine as well, but you're not.

What you will get is a big library of samples, all of which can be looped and played at your choice of beats per minute. No, you won't get different time signatures, no you won't be able to edit loops and no, none of these samples will sound good over a big speaker system. You will get to make some dance and hip-hop style tracks easily, but don't think you'll be able to forge new ground. It's unfortunate because the amount of samples here is staggering; we spent a few hours just listening to them all, but when it came down to actually making a track, it all felt too canned. It's impossible not to make a decent sounding track, which is inherently the problem.

Samples are well and good, but the looping system here is too simple to really garner interesting results. You can adjust pan and reverb, but that's about it. It's too bad considering a triple-A developer teamed up with Timbaland to make this and it's unfortunate they couldn't have come up with more editing options to enable a real sense of creativity. For those who have felt electronic music was just too simple to make, here's proof.

It might seem like a worthwhile expedition to undergo at the current price of $2.99, but take it from us, Beaterator is best left out of your pocket.

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