Good fit with Novation UltraNova and Nocturn
So far, I like it! Its built like a tank and looks good next to an APC40 (they are the same color). I have an UltraNova and really needed a control surface with a transport for my mobile setup. The pads are a lot softer then prior models. The stock pads need to be modded to increase the sensitivity. Just google "how to mod akai mpd" on the internet and watch some of the videos or read the directions.. all you have to do is put some thick cloth tap, some rubber, or foam on the underside of the pads to get them closer to the sensor.
As for the choice between this controller and the MPD32, it depends if you have enough desk space and/or how much you need the extra 2 sliders, 2 encoders, and 8 buttons. Its $130 more. The buttons make loud clicking noises. I have a Novation Nocturn that I absolutely adore. That's $100 and has the extra controls, soft rubber buttons(better for recording), an HUI mixer, LED rings around the encoders, and AutoMap. I would recommend that personally. The MPD32 is too big for me... desk space is at a premium in my studio.
If you like analog drum machines, Arturia just released the Spark VDM software that you don't need the controller for and its only $99. The way that this controller is setup, it will work good with that software because the encoders are in groups of three and you have 4 banks which means you can control all 16 sets of 3 encoders with two templates. Works especially good in combination with the Nocturn.
As for the choice between this and Maschine. I don't like the Maschine that much honestly. I have one and it just slowed me down, which is why I bought this. Maschine a good idea but there are a lot of frustrating things about about the hardware and software. I haven't tried the Akai MPC studio yet but I would pick that over the Maschine based on the controller layout.
Overall, you can't go wrong with this for the price. If you don't upgrade the pads its not so good but its super cheap/free to upgrade them so I wouldn't let that scare you off.