Microsoft recently pulled the covers off the Surface Studio and a newly-updated Surface Book, but there was one innovative device that drew a lot of attention: Surface Dial.
What is Surface Dial?
Surface Dial is an accessory that's been designed by Microsoft of give you more interaction with Surface devices.
Uniquely, this is an accessory that's designed to be used either on the display itself, or on the desktop. It offers rotational haptic feedback when twisting, meaning you can have radial control of various menus.
It will allow rotation of objects, scrolling of documents or websites, or simply changing the volume of your music. It will allow rotation, press and hold menus, clicks, as well as capacitive detection when placed on the screen of Surface Studio.
Surface Dial connects to your PC using Bluetooth.
What devices support Surface Dial?
The good news is that the Surface Dial is compatible with a wide range of Microsoft devices, not just the latest Surface Studio that it launched alongside:
Surface Dial is supported by Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. Although Microsoft has publicly stated support for its Surface devices, it's not known if it will work with other Windows PCs.
Surface Dial specs
Surface Dial top section measures 59mm in diameter and sits 30mm high. The base is slightly smaller than top at 54mm and is 4mm thick. The whole thing weighs 145g, including the provided batteries.
As we said, it connects via Bluetooth to your Surface and is should give you 12 months of use from those batteries.
What apps support Surface Dial?
Microsoft has shown off a number of creative apps working with Surface Dial. Those include Sketchable, Mental Canvas Player, Drawboard PDF, Moho 12, StaffPad and Bluebeam Revu.
Dial can also be used with Plumbago, Ink Replay, OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Windows Maps, Groove Music, Spotify, PewPew Shooter, Microsoft Photos and Paint.
We're sure that many other apps will work on providing support for Surface Dial following launch.
Surface Dial price and availability
Surface Dial costs $99 and is currently available for pre-order.
Surface Dial will be available from 10 November 2016 in the US. There's no word on a UK release date yet.
Quick thoughts playing with the Surface Dial
The Dial sits on your desk or directly on the screen of your Surface Studio, and it can move both clockwise and counterclockwise. When pressed downward, it selects and can toggle between different parts of a feature. For example, when choosing RGB for colour options, if you twist it around, it moves around the color wheel. By clicking down, you'll see it change the type of colour wheel. Or, if you select a brush type (you may be on a brush size that you can spin to shrink or enlarge as you draw), you can press down on your Dial to turn the angle of your brush or change the opacity, among other features.
Having had a quick play with the Surface Dial, it makes the Surface Studio amazing to work with. It was tough to figure out at first, because it has so many options, but both watching a Microsoft PR with it, and then having a play ourselves, things started to make sense. You can zoom in to something, change colours and the size of the brush within seconds. Master it and it will be sure to speed up your workflow.