Do something often and well enough, and eventually optimization becomes a next step obsession. Nowhere is this more true than with design and photography professionals stationed in front of screens for hours daily working in applications like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. The following hardware devices are designed to expedite and fine tune accuracy for anyone working at a professional level and who appreciates a certain degree of tactile feedback while editing, processing, illustrating, and reviewing their work.
We called the first Loupedeck a capable “ergonomic and tactile mechanism for editing with acute accuracy”, an editing console designed to turn the mundane tasks of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® Classic CC’s digital workflow into a more satisfying feedback loop of touch and sound. Thankfully not much has changed since, mostly improvements to the hardware’s build (the addition of mechanical actuation to the keys is welcome) and the layout, with updated software fine tuned for speed and stability. We can attest the new layout of buttons, knobs, and dials has improved, with the purpose of each button more clearly evident. The latest editing console also adds compatibility with Lightroom competitor, Aurora HDR, with support for “other leading photo editing software” promised by the end of the year, alongside updates to deliver even more customization and functionality.
Logitech Craft Wireless Keyboard
The premium heft and finish, proximity sensors detection with auto-illumination, alongside its full expanse of keys and a number pad leaves no doubt the Craft is one of Logitech’s more serious efforts in the keyboard category – one specifically engineered to appeal to the needs of designers with an affinity for the tactile. The Craft’s coolest feature is its Crown, a hardware feature located in the upper left corner that operates as dial, touch sensitive surface, and button, all in one. Out of the box, the Craft’s included software recognizes and integrates with the menu and control options of Adobe Photoshop® CC, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® Classic CC, Adobe Illustrator® CC, Adobe Premiere® Pro CC, Adobe InDesign® CC, and Microsoft PowerPoint®, Microsoft Excel®, and Microsoft Word.
As you might recognize by now we’re big fans of dials, buttons, and sliders. Blame our childhood spent at the arcade and messing with our parents’ analog audio gear. Even so, there’s no doubt tactile controls beat a virtual interface, which makes this modular system of singular CNC-machined aluminum controls designed to magnetically snap together into whatever configuration required an enticing opportunity to work with files more like a DJ rather than a pixel pusher.
Wacom Mobile Studio Pro
The Mobile Studio Pro differs from the bunch here in that it’s not so much an accessory as an all-inclusive portable 4K computer in tablet form. Offered in various configurations and 13″ or 16″ sizes, the highest tier combines a 16″ 4K resolution screen (with etched glass to reduce glare and add a modicum of friction for drawing) with a Wacom Pro Pen 2 capable of 8,192 levels of sensitivity. At 4.45lbs, Wacom’s version of the Surface Pro isn’t exactly a lightweight device, but the Mobile Studio Pro is a true full Windows 10 capable hybrid device engineered specifically to mitigate the workflow of illustrators, designers, 3D artists, motion graphics artists, and animators in a form factor that makes bringing home work maybe a little too easy.
Microsoft Surface Dial
The aluminum Bluetooth powered puck-dial is unique from the multitude of sidekick add-on input devices like keyboards, mice and styluses. Unlike other productivity input accessory, the Surface Dial is designed to be used both upon or besides a screen. When placed upon the screen of a Surface Studio and Surface Pro 4, the Dial becomes a magic complement to creativity, revealing a contextual radial menu interface with access to menu options. In use the Surface Dial invites designers to utilize both hands across the screen in coordination and in more intimate proximity. We especially like the integration of haptic feedback, adding yet another satisfying and useful tactile layer to the Dial’s contextual radial menu experience. It’s also admittedly our favorite means to change the volume while listening to Spotify we’ve ever tried.
Contour ShuttlePRO v2
Designed around a spring loaded jog shuttle wheel, this second iteration of the ShuttlePro is optimized especially for audio and video editing duties, where scrubbing through a timeline is a common and onerous task. With fifteen programmable buttons at finger’s reach and automatic application recognition, the ShuttlePRO comes pre-configured to recognize over 100 popular editing/productivity applications for both Windows and macOS.