After a slow start, consumers have taken compressed digital music to their hearts over the past ten years or so. The convenience of carrying around your entire record collection in your pocket has sparked a revolution in personal music listening. But remarkably vinyl - now two generations of format old - is still going strong. For some, it's sheer nostalgia that keeps them playing their LPs; others swear by the sound quality of a pristine record on a top-end turntable. But by far the main reason vinyl is still alive, is because of the DJ community.
There's something about the simplicity of manipulating the discs manually, with a stroke of the fingers and a flick of the wrist - a shove at the right moment to get two tracks in sync, a finessing of the pitch slider to get the decks/tracks in tempo - that DJing with an iPod, or even a pair of iPods can't match.
Could the Tonium Pacemaker be the gadget that finally cracks those tough DJ nuts? This is an MP3 player with knobs on, designed to let you mix tracks, beat match and crossfade between them, just as you would with a pair of decks and a case-load of vinyl. Except you don't need the cavernous boot of a clapped out old Volvo to transport this piece of kit around - it fits in your pocket.
It's a pretty slick-looking piece of kit, with its stealth-black soft-touch rubber coating and an unusual double-round ended profile. Switch it on and cool white lights illuminate the controls. But the Pacemaker is no inconsequential bauble: its controls and outputs reveal a system that's aimed at being used, for real - a working tool rather than a gimmick.
At the centre of things is the device's circular touchpad, which sits directly beneath a circular screen at the top. This is used to scroll quickly through track lists, adjust gain and volume levels, bass and treble. It's also used to adjust the speed of a track and pitch bend - to slow or speed a track so it can be bumped back into sync with another, and with a track in DJ stutter pause mode it can be used to fine tune your cue point so you've got it exactly in time with the bass line.