I'd like to think so. The new Surface Studio may have stolen the show at the Microsoft press conference, but what I'm most excited about is the new Surface Dial. Even though touchscreen devices have started taking over our lives and in many ways increased our mobile productivity, I'm still a big fan of tactile interfaces to help speed up the long hours of editing at my desk.
The Surface Dial obviously isn't the first tactile creative device, B&H offers a variety of great options for use with most editing software. In fact, this is not the first dial-based device either. I used the Griffin Technology Powermate for video editing in Premiere for years. Unfortunately, for Windows use, it required software hacks and wasn't very useful for programs like Lightroom. Why is the new Surface Dial different? It's the first tactile device designed to interact directly with a touch surface, both increasing the possibilities for quickly switching between tools as well as maintaining eye contact with the screen itself. Even the new Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro will require you to look down away from your screen to manage.
Mark Sullivan over at Fast Company recently sat down with Panos Panay, Microsoft's hardware chief, to get an in-depth look at both the new Surface Studio and Surface Dial. In his article, Sullivan explores how the Microsoft design team worked to redesign the desktop PC for the creative market, incorporating elements from the current Surface line of products as well as Microsoft's previous Table computer to create an all-in-one desktop device free of cluttered third party devices on your desk. This is something that really speaks to me. I have at least four or five devices on my desk to edit with at any given time, depending on if I'm working on stills or video. The combination of Dial and Studio PC definitely would clean up my desk of devices, but what I would really like to see is more integration with the Surface Pro line. Although the dial will work with Pro 3 and Pro 4, it doesn't sound like you can use it with the touchscreen interface. As of now, the Dial doesn't come with onscreen dial controls for Adobe software, but does have some built-in basic functions for apps like Photoshop. It's easy to see how in the future, companies like Adobe could develop these features for use with Lightroom sliders, Premiere scrubbing, and various other creative tools.
What do you think? Is the Surface Dial the device you didn't know you needed or another gimmick? Let me know in the comments.