Friday, 02 December 2016 14:53

The Surface Dial is much more than a hockey puck


Microsoft has released its take on the all-in-one desktop — the Surface Studio — and also added in a left field item called a Surface Dial that may become indispensable to any Surface touch device.

iFixit performed a teardown to see what made it tick. Its conclusion: it is the Surface co-star.

But what is the Surface Dial? Microsoft says, “Surface Dial is a completely new way to interact with technology and create in the most natural, immersive way. Store, customize, access, navigate, and reimagine physical tools in the digital world – from concept to creation.”

iFixit says it is much more than a mouse.

Perhaps the best way to describe it is as a pointing device with haptic feedback that is context sensitive. At its base level, you can magnify, rotate, position the cursor or scroll – just like a mouse with scroll wheel. But it’s the apps and interaction with the Surface touch screens that give it the power.

For example, using Sketchable gives you quick and intuitive access to the brush settings you use most. Make fast and fluid colour adjustments, and rotate or scale your canvas to achieve a finer level of control. Other apps add 3D functionality, timeline (video editing), music creation, annotation, and markup.

MS Dial colour wheel

It is like they have taken the MacBook touch bar, improved it and put it into a more intuitive, touch-friendly puck that works with the Microsoft Pen. Dial also works with all Microsoft Office apps to add context functionality.

Technically it has:

  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Is powered by two removable AAA Alkaline batteries
  • Two “input” methods, spin and click
  • Sticky removable rubber foot magnetically attached to the base to stop slip around the screen and to replace batteries
  • Durable – should withstand drops off desks and has a rugged, smooth bearings
  • Four magnets around the edge to give rotational information and a haptic motor for vibration
  • Optical sensors

iFixit says it’s a disposable device, apart from the replaceable batteries.

You can read about iFixit’s Surface Studio teardown here. 


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!



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