Wacom has taken an unlikely detour from the digital imaging market to create the nextbeat, a complete digital DJ package with a wireless control unit that can be removed from the base unit, and promises to liberate DJs from the booth - but we're not quite sure how that works when the headphones jack is located on the base unit.
The nextbeat does not require a computer and proprietary software to function, and with two virtual turntables, a mixer with 3-band EQ, effects and a sampler on board, you won't need to buy two of them and a separate mixer to actually start mixing tunes.
There's next to no information regarding the tech specs, but judging from the available images and video, it appears that pitching and jogging (that's how you get two tracks aligned and running at the same tempo, for the non-DJs) is done with touch-sensitive areas on the left and right of the circle on the control unit, with crossfading on the bottom. Within the circle, you'll find a trigger to play a loaded sample - and it appears you can map different parameters like filter frequency or pitch to the X and Y location of your presses.
The nextbeat is destined for a Summer release in Europe and Japan. No pricing has been announced. Interested parties can get a look at the device at the Winter Music Conference in Miami Beach, Florida, USA (24-28 March 2009) and Musikmesse in Frankfurt, Germany (1-4 April 2009).
You can see videos of the device in use at nextbeat.eu.