It's been a while since I initially signed up for a copy of Pro Tools First, so I was really excited to see an email about a week ago letting me know that the download link for my copy was finally available. I'm assuming that fine tuning this product may have taken a lot more time than anticipated, as it incorporates some newer features that Pro Tools has begun to offer, but so far, my impression is definitely favorable.
To clarify, I do come to this review as someone who uses the standard release of ProTools regularly, though I've been happily running version 10 for some time and I'm not as familiar with some of the much newer features 11 and 12 have to offer. I also use ProTools primary for voice over recording and SFX editing and design, so I'm nearly exclusively working in the edit window on any given project.
So far, the pros are outweighing the cons. I'm currently using a Macbook Air for maximum mobility, so Pro Tools First is by far the most ideal mobile DAW for my current workflow and experience. Even though my projects are technically synced up with cloud storage (something I've seen Avid attempting to push towards in its standard releases), you still have the ability to work on projects offline as long as you have them opened previously and readily available. Your changes also seem to upload only when you hit the save function, so thankfully it doesn't impact performance while you're editing in real time. Though I'm not really a fan of having *only* cloud storage as an option, I really can't complain too much, especially as this will handle 99% of what I need it for anyway.
The best by far for me is that all of my hotkeys are still available and the workflow is fairly identical to what I'm used to in the standard Pro Tools windows. Most of the built in, standard plugins are also available to apply to your tracks or use via the audio suite function, so you can do a fair amount of editing and mixing before you start missing any functionality. You can also
Along with the lack of ability to have local projects (there is also a 3 project limit unless you purchase extra - which to me, is very within reason for what we're getting for free), one of my other main complaints is that there is not an option for clip gain, which is a basic function I use pretty frequently and probably miss the most. I'm also sad that there aren't any video options either, even just for reference purposes, but again in the scenario of getting what you pay for, it's hardly a deal breaker. It would be something I'd be willing to pay a reasonable amount for down the road if it were made available as an add on.
So far Pro Tools First handles smoothly and does nearly everything I need it to. As long as you understand what it is and what you can expect to get out of it for the unbeatable price (or lack thereof) this is a solid additional tool to add to the arsenal of indie sound producers or professionals who need a solid version of Pro Tools for simple tasks and on the go.