I was finally able to save up for something that I've had on my wishlist for over 5 years. In that time, they've improved the product, so I'm a little glad I had to wait.
I got a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49. I had to download and install the software (about 60GB of content), so I couldn't use it for very long last night.
I decided to get this instead of a standalone synth because it allows for the browsing of patches directly from the keyboard. This means that I have access to a lot more sounds and instruments from a single device. I won't have to use the mouse and computer keyboard to create music so it's a bit like having a standalone synth. It has DAW integration, so creating music is done all on the Kontrol keyboard.
I've also seen a lot of people say that the Native Instrument sound libraries are the best in the industry. Many of their sounds end up on mainstream songs. I'm already saving up so I can upgrade to Komplete 12. From what I've heard so far, I'm really impressed with the sound quality of the instruments in Komplete.
I may still get a desktop synth (I'm eyeing the HydraSynth) because the Kontrol has MIDI in/out, but I like that I can browse the patches and alter the sound directly from the control with the pre-mapped knobs.
I was also pleasantly surprised to learn that it came with Maschine Essentials software for beatmaking. Apparently, this thing really lights up when you connect it to Maschine to make music. I have really been wanting to try that out. I've seen some people on YouTube that have said that they don't even use their Maschine hardware any more and just use the Kontrol to run the Maschine software.
This is by far the nicest keyboard I have owned since my Roland FP-9 Digital Stage Piano, but this one is a controller that integrates with the computer. My FP-9 is simply a practice piano with hammer action keys. It has DIN MIDI, but I don't use it with the computer. The keys feel really nice and the buttons and knobs feel sturdy. It's a huge upgrade from my previous MIDI controller (a Novation LaunchKey 49 that I paid about $50 for).
I'm looking forward to getting to learn a new workflow for creating music. I think I may switch from Reason to Ableton since Ableton is one of the supported DAWs for the Kontrol. I was also looking at Logic Pro, but that doesn't seem like it's suited for how I would work. I've also used Ableton before, so I'm a little more familiar with it.