Korg has formally unveiled the Korg Kaptivator, as seen here on CDM this spring. Unlike Edirol’s new VJ hardware, the “priced-like-a-car” CG-8, the Kaptivator is in the reach of mortals with a US$2500 list.

What’s cool about the Kaptivator is that it’s the first full-featured hardware sampler for video. You can record from analog video input or a DV camera, with storage of up to 800 clips / 106 minutes (40 GB hard drive). Clips are triggered from an Akai MPC-style 4×4 grid of pads. You can add effects, individually or via saved styles (essentially macros of specific routings and effects settings), cross-fade, and trigger to tempo via a tap tempo or even an audio input trigger. There’s MIDI I/O, too, so you’ll be able to jam with this thing while playing keyboards, etc.

I got a chance to sit down and play with the Kaptivator last week while visiting Korg headquarters on Long Island, NY. The video output looks great, and having LCD previews really helps out. Korg has packed a lot of details into how the sampler works, too: you can easily change sample length a beat at a time according to the master tempo, add to a sample so that it gets progressively longer, and even set it up for time-lapse sampling. (That last feature is particularly fun.) Real-time control is definitely the focus: you can record controller motions, map anything to MIDI, and in addition to the pads and crossfader there’s a touch-controller, too, for controlling effects. (A full X/Y/Z touchpad a la the Kaoss Pad would have been nice, but the single touchpad keeps the unit very svelte.) You could fit this into even the most cramped VJ setup, and take advantage of the LCD screens for previewing, or with more space, output to monitors.

With a street price expected around $2300, you’ll have to be a serious VJ to make the investment, but there’s certainly some reliability and ease to hardware — not to mention, for sampling capabilities (software’s one main weakness), this could be the perfect complement to your laptop.