Akai's MPK Mini Play keyboard has a reputation as a solid portable music-making machine (Akai claims it's the best-selling mini keyboard), and the company appears keen to make the most of that perception. The brand has introduced an MPK Mini Play Mk3 that upgrades both the feel and longevity. You'll find a new keybed with greater "dynamic" performance and more accurate velocity response, while the eight drum pads are now true velocity-sensitive MPC units. You can lean more on the Mk3 as a serious production tool, then.
The four-battery design (the original used three) also promises a long 14-plus hours of playing to help with all-day creative sessions, and a larger speaker with better low-end output will help when you'd rather not plug in headphones. You'll find 100 built-in drum and instrument sounds, four customizable knobs and an equally flexible joystick. Akai includes its MPC Beats software to help you get started, but the new MPK Mini Play should work with any digital audio workstation that supports USB-based MIDI controllers.
The MPK Mini Play Mk3 sells for $150. That's about $20 more than the original, but it should still be easy to justify if you're either new to music production or want a compact keyboard for live gigs or on-the-spot composition.