|Microsoft Surface Pro (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB)
|Surface Arc Mouse – Burgundy
|Microsoft Surface Pro Signature Type Cover - Platinum
Surface Dial was designed to transform the way you create. It optimizes your workflow by bringing the most used tools directly onto your digital workspace. Store, customize, access, navigate, and reimagine physical tools in the digital world—from concept to creation. Surface Dial helps you focus on your work instead of spending time on keyboard shortcuts, switching between screens, and moving back-and-forth between palette and canvas. Device must support Bluetooth 4.0 or higher (visit Microsoft.com/hardware/compatibility for more details). Surface Dial helps you focus on your work instead of spending time on keyboard shortcuts, switching between screens, and moving back-and-forth between palette and canvas.
Most helpful customer reviews
56 of 61 people found the following review helpful.
A truly great peripheral that needs time to reach its potential.
By Brett Cook
I got the Dial the morning it came out, so I've had some time to experiment. It's actually one of the hardest peripherals to review because I'm somewhat stuck between reviewing it as it stands today, 11/28/16, and where I think it'll be in a few months. The five star review is for what it'll become. If you're buying this at the time I'm reviewing it, it's still a very solid device, but perhaps a 4 star one.
Some review notes: I used the Surface Dial in three places: my non-Surface workstation, my Surface Pro 4, and I also spent time in the store with a Surface Studio.
The first thing I need to note is that this, as of today, doesn't have the super cool on-screen functionality you've seen in MS' videos, even with the officially supported Surface Pro 4. This is not to say it doesn't work; it works fine. But if you're hoping that it'll open up a wheel menu where you place it, that's not there today. I believe this feature will be added in early next year (2017).
Obviously, that holds true for people with non-Surface workstations, like mine. I can say, however, that this is not true for the Surface Studio. Assuming the one in the MS store is the one you'll eventually buy, this functionality exists out of the box.
The hardware is fairly straightforward to review. The Dial feels terrific. It's a surprisingly large, heavy, chunk of aluminum or magnesium. It is not painted plastic. The resistance to turn the dial is just right--you can't toss it and it never feels loose, but neither does it take any effort to turn. The size is just right. If you prefer to cup the Dial, smaller females and children may find this difficult, but I prefer to put my palm in front of it and control it with my finger tips, and for this purpose, it's unlikely to exclude anyone.
The shiny rubber pad on the bottom (which is in the included photos) has two different non-slip surfaces. It's not at all sticky, which I'm thankful for, but it does provide a surprising amount of resistance from slipping. While it can handle surprisingly vertical angles on my Surface Pro 4, you need to be very careful with this. If you're not paying attention, this heavy metal object may slide down your screen and, at best, damage the dial when it falls off, or at worst, damage your keyboard or desk + the dial when it falls off. Still, it works better at hanging on than expected, I just include this to remind you it isn't a suction cup and it does have limitations.
So the hardware is pretty much flawless. Looks great, feels great, works as advertised.
The software, unfortunately, lets it down a bit, at least on day 1.
The first thing I want to say is that, while the features are currently very lacking, they do feel polished and 1st party. There's not a lot you can do with the Dial right now, but it never feels like a buggy or ugly beta device. The few features it has it executes very reliably.
Basically, MS includes a small suite of functions that seem to be global/system wide. These are pretty generic, but they are somewhat useful. This includes scroll, undo, volume controls, magnification and custom keyboard shortcuts. I'm not sure if third party software has to opt in. Most of it seems to reliably pull up the generic menu, but some places it failed to do even that (a small minority failed, it should be noted).
These functions are useful. The scroll is so smooth and feels so great that it's almost preferable to just using the mouse. The volume controls are great for those who lack dedicated media control buttons on their keyboard. Magnify is pretty obvious in its utility. The undo function is surprisingly useful as well. It lets you fly through a bunch of changes in formatting, be it to a document or to a Photoshop image, and you can see if you like the new changes more or less.
The custom keyboard shortcuts can be helpful as well. For instance, I reprogrammed one that uses ctrl + tab clockwise and ctrl + shift + tab, where a single short press of the dial reloads the page. This lets me scroll through my browser tabs easily (I often have 10 to 20 tabs open for work). You can conceivably make this work with any keyboard shortcut, even ones that don't have a "direction." I don't see why you couldn't close programs by turning it one way and open Cortana by turning it the other, for instance.
The current lack of 3rd party support, however, is the Achilles heel of the device. I would love to see Adobe support on day one, for instance. Right now, there isn't much 3rd party support, but I did download a graphics program called Sketchable which fully supported the Dial on day 1.
Really, this is where the Dial earns its 5 star rating, because this shows the potential. I can seamlessly change the color of my brush while drawing, or the brush size, or the kind of brush. The analog nature of the Dial makes these changes very organic, and it's one of the first times I felt I was doing something that was totally unique to digital media when using a pen. I could write on and on about this, but it's something you need to experience firsthand to understand. The potential here for the visual creative field is vast.
I imagine that similar possibilities will be true in audio and graphics editing.
I used Sketchable on both my home devices and MS' Studio. While MS' Studio does allow me to put the dial right on the screen, where it forms the menu wheel around the Dial, this was not the sine qua non of its use. Actually, using it on my desk (and away from the screen) is entirely enjoyable, although it does lack the cool factor.
The thrust of that is that you shouldn't be concerned with whether or not you have a Surface device. This works just fine on any Bluetooth enabled Windows 10 computer, and I recommend it regardless.
I had wondered if the on-screen functionality was simply a cool gimmick, and in some cases it is, but I did find that when I was fully leaning over and resting on the huge 28 inch Surface Studio screen, it was a lot easier to have it on the screen, if only because I didn't want to reach around and under the screen to find the Dial below. So no, it's not just a gimmick, but neither is it necessary for most people.
A couple more little criticisms quickly before I adjourn.
It goes to sleep too often and wakes up too slow. I often use the Dial as my system volume control, but it's inconvenient/annoying to have to push it, wait a second or two, and then use it. I understand that it must sleep to preserve battery life, but I'd like to see it reestablish its functionality more quickly.
I also feel that MS has missed out on the gaming potential of the Dial. For instance, imagine in Deus Ex if you could scroll between your weapons or augs with the wheel. I assume game developers are free to support if they wish, though.
So that's the Dial today: terrific hardware with polished, but very limited, software. 4 stars today, but 5 stars for when 3rd parties finally support it. It's a must buy for people who ordered the Surface Studio, but I actually think everyone, even non-graphics people, should consider one.
I've included photos of the Dial with several devices so you can see its size and how it looks with other equipment. The keyboards shown are the K810, the Surface Keyboard, and the Surface Ergonomic Keyboard. The mouse is the Surface Mouse.
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
I'm in love and I just got started
I'm a mouse snob, I'm a keyboard fanatic, and so much so that I often replace devices within 6 months or as soon as they start responding in a way that is "not like new".
A variety of those keyboards have been Microsoft, the majority of those mice have been Logitech Anywhere models, and I had an obsession with this device since I first saw it.
I love it. LOVE.
I'm using it with a Surface Pro 2017 as a scroll device. The device itself is so well built and textured/dial weighted. It feels like you're working with a physical device as you scroll down a list or use it for other purposes, it feels like you're interacting with the computer on a deeper, more physical level. It adds enjoyment to using the tablet!
Unboxing was easy, pairing was simple, the metal texture keeps a natural coolness from the ambient temperature and I couldn't enjoy that more. The bottom is slightly sticky (not magnetic as I had assumed? Or if so, in addition).
I know the original applications for this have originally been in graphic and design, I can also imagine amazing uses for music leveling and layer/design, gaming... you name it.
I hesitated on purchasing this because I viewed the device as "optional". If I could replace my mouse with it, I would. And with the stylus on Surface Pro, I probably could. Looking forward to many more miles & dials with this new friend. :)
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Surface Dial rules !
By Marque E
this is one off the nicest pc pheripherals and addition to interface with computers i have ever touched or used...even without the surface... it feels great, the haptic feedback is genious...amazing!
it feels a bit like a scroll button on the squeezebox transporter.
I think it will totally change the way we interact with devices and applications..
scrolling in different apps, adjusting volume, skipping frames in video editing software....amazing...like a professional video/audio studio editor jog shuttle...but even better.