The whole point of the electribe series is to use the on-board sequencing, in that way you'd be getting the most out of it. I disagree with a lot of the above from magpieindustries, let's start with the efx section.
( I had the EMX1, a mate had the ESX1 ) the efx are not poor at all, in fact, I really liked them, the reverb is lo-fi/washy in a way I really like and I have sought this sound in software since ( I get close with Audio Damage Ratshack reverb and a few other chains ) You can always add sounds with efx ( say reverb ) applied to them anyway.
I'm not quite sure what magpieindustries connection between external velocity and drum machine is. Drum machines are, by their very nature a combination of source sounds and sequencing, triggering internal sounds via an external sequencer over midi takes away the essence of what defines a drum machine. Why you'd want to bypass the sequencer and feed it external midi is anyones guess but for me, it misses the point of what this box is about.
So in that sense, you CAN use it as a drum machine since it responds like 90% of other drum machines do. There's an accent track. On any old skool type drum machine, you'd usually find an accent track, you'd program in accents and it will affect all sounds globally. This isn't unique to the ESX1, it's the way drum machines worked for years, also you have the choke ability, put open and closed hats on these 2 parts and they will cut each other out. Whether or not this type of velocity limitation is for you ( more modern stuff has more flexibility ) is a different matter. It's worth being aware of though, sometimes I deliberately want the feel of a drum machine and will program beats with this type of limitation in mind, sometimes a DAW app can offer too much control, subtle variations of velocity on every possible sound is all well and good and sounds more modern but sometimes you may want an old skool drum machine feel. Either way, like I was saying, it's worth pointing out and being aware that a lot of other stuff you may check out could operate the same way.
There's no more noise/hiss at the outputs than anything else I have ever owned. My Machinedrum was the most modern drum machine and it was the noisiest along with an old super bass station rack. The EMX1 had a bit of 'airy noise' too, only really detectable through headphones and I dont even think it's worth mentioning. You will always get a bit of noise and hiss from hardware stuff, embrace it.
Better to edit sample in an audio editor first and the way it handles stereo samples sucks, you can record motion sequences into the sequencer and resample into itself. You CAN edit samples but these days, people rely on graphic editing but it wasn't always so.
I quite liked the filters in tame useage, hated the compressor and eq and a lot of people experienced the 'fuse' going on these electribes - my EMX1 died this way. The valve tubes never impressed me and I found them more of a gimmick and thought they made too much of them as a selling point.
I tend to favour Sound on Sound for gear reviews, they have this on there: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar04/a ... rgesx1.htm
I guess I agree with magpie industries on some of it but other points are a matter of opinion and others like the drum machine analogy not at all. If they are still around the £250 mark, I'd leave them alone, I dunno how common smart media cards are any more either. Def look around for other options. That said, those electribe series are fast and fun to work with, but not without frustrations and you may quickly out grow it and run into things you cannot do. If I had one now, it would prob be just to sequence stuff like 808 or 909 drum sounds or something, the danger is that you start writing more in depth stuff and then you'll find it too restricted so it depends on what you'd expect to get from it.
I'm a bit off the ball with other grooveboxes around at the moment but if i was after a studio sample/sequencer/synth in one, for the same money, I'd be looking at an EMU 4XT Ultra, just ridiculously poweful but over kill for some. Or a Kurzweil K2000rs....