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Bringing up a color picker and changing colors are frequent tasks for artists and designers, and it looks like the $100 Dial makes it very easy.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Application-specific controls

It was launched alongside Microsoft's impressive new Surface Studio all-in-one PC.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Here, you can see how the Dial is integrated with an application; for instance, it's providing a readout of zoom scale and rotation angle, plus application-specific button controls.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Programmable

The Dial can control a few operating-system specific tasks, such as undo and volume, in addition to working with applications that support it directly.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Keyboard shortcuts

You can also map keyboard shortcuts to the Dial, and it can provide haptic feedback -- buzzing gently -- for those operations.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

A good design for lefties

One clever aspect of the design is that it can be used equally comfortably by left- and right-handed people.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Two-handed operation

Using a dedicated accessory to supplement your main tool is nothing new for designers and artists, but none of them have really taken off in a big way. That's because people tend to have strong preferences about the secondary accessory. For instance, if you use a lot of keyboard shortcuts, the Dial might not have the capacity to program all of them.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

How usable?

Since you can rotate and zoom with your fingers on the touchscreen surface, the utility of the Dial will probably depend on how much you need to program specific functions.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Doesn't slide

When the display is tilted at a relatively low angle, the Dial can sit on it without sliding.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Bottom

That no-slide bottom.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
Published:Caption:

Minimalist

The Dial's minimalist design complements the Surface Studio, but it will work with any Surface 3 or later.

Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
Published:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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