To qualify my opinion, I am no expert, but I do use a laptop live. Well, I have been
through every configuration of equipment that I have got to try and make my rig as
manageable as possible which has included trying to use a laptop. Basically every way I
have tried things has been an almighty pain. Trying to connect up a controller keyboard to
a laptop with a USB interface is messy: a laptop, keyboard and interface all strung
together with various wires.
I know this is not really an adequate answer, but
I got so fed up with just the amount of boxes I was taking to just a rehearsal I decided
to go minimal and say stuff it, I will take one keyboard and if I can't make the right
noise with that I can't make the right noise. So I broke the shackles of a big 88 note
master keyboard, small secondary keyboard, laptop, interface and sampler and bought a
decidedly plastic Roland Juno G. I know it is not the height of luxury but I am a player
with shall we say 'basic' skills. I decided that if I cannot play something using the
basic sampler, synth engine and sequencer on that, then I am not going to play it.
Personally I love the freedom it has given me and the ease of setting up. I also tried
using just a 37 key Akai Miniak and in some ways had the same feeling of liberation
accepting that I could only make certain wibbly, squidgey noises - no piano, no Rhodes etc
On the other hand, I did have limited joy from the laptop, a CME UF7
fitted with a Firewire card and the laptop balanced on top, but I was still after a
one-box solution. The laptop running Cubase to record rehearsals and play back backing
tracks and Kore to manage plugins was no more flaky than any other combination of hardware
that I tried. I just was fed up carrying nine boxes into the rehearsal room. I just wanted
to play and go.