My band gigged with an all-hardware and MPC setup (MPC, Evolver, Juno 106, Juno 6, Poly 800, EA-1, YC-25D and a lot of pedals) for about three years and have been using a synth each + laptop for the last two and a half, and the laptop has been more reliable than the hardware was. It's also been more reliable than the gear of other bands we've played with, we've never had to cut a show short but we've played with bands that had to stop songs and in a couple of cases end the show after only a couple of songs because they had a pedal, guitar or amp break. Gear is never 100% reliable, but there's no reason you can't get a laptop working as reliably as anything else.tyrannosaurus mark wrote:Software can be very unreliable live, and there is a stigma attached to using laptops and computers on stage in some settings
As well as being more reliable it's easier to transport (we can take the whole live rig in a taxi or on a plane for shows), much faster to set up on stage and sound quality is better (don't have to rely on the engineer as much to get the sound right and we can use a wider variety of sounds). It's fun to bring heaps of gear to a show but only if you have ages to set up and soundcheck and don't have to pack the gear down to give other bands room. Also it gets pretty annoying spending half an hour setting up before a show when you're playing a few shows a month and then not being able to drink because you've got to drive all the gear home.
Re: the whole stigma thing, I think that's more to do with the way people go passive when they're looking at a computer screen, and the brightness of the screen attracts the eye. When we play I have the laptop behind me so I don't get sucked into looking at it and it's like I'm using any other instrument. I use an MPD for playing it which sits to my side so I can play it without looking at the lappy. I also have the lappy turned round so the audience can see what's going on on the screen if they want and it doesn't seem like I'm hiding anything from them.