There are times when the mouse and keyboard shine over other input devices. Playing a first person shooter game is one example: although I've tried all sorts of game controllers over the years, nothing beats the good 'ole mouse 'n keyboard.
But as a photographer, there are other times when the mouse and keyboard fall short. On numerous occasions, I've wished that I had a DJ-style analog slider or dial as an input device, or a button to perform a function instead of clunky keyboard shortcuts that are prone to error due to coffee or sleep deprivation. I don't care how many DPI the latest Razer mouse is, its marriage with an on-screen slider is purely one of convenience. Trackpads are just as bad, although Apple products admittedly make this less painful. So when companies launch input devices with the intention of filling this very gap, I'm certainly paying attention, and especially when its integrated with Adobe products.
Palette is a device that's designed for folks that prefer the tactility of dials and sliders. It's "tightly integrated with Adobe Photoshop CC", or so they claim. Based on the photos and Youtube videos of the device being used in action, I'm inclined to believe them. And pick one up.
Palette raised close to $160,000 a couple of years ago via a Kickstarter campaign. While there's plenty of reason to be wary of some Kickstarter campaigns, this looks like a quality product that's had plenty of thought put into its product design.
Being able to use a real physical slider and dial to control exposure, white balance, saturation, curves etc. to me would at the very least solve the problem of having to look at a slider instead of the image you're using it on. I can't say for sure until I've used one myself, but I"m betting it'd make workflow more efficacious. With the amount of time we photographers have to spend on computers these days, that is more than welcome.
What makes the product even more enticing is that it's customisable. And how! No really, it's the how part is really interesting. No wires, no ports, magnets! Who doesn't love magnets? The modularity of its design means many possible configurations for many possible workspace sizes. Presumably that's what they had in mind.
The 'core'module connects to your PC or Mac, and you can attach the many dials, buttons or sliders to it (and each other of course) depending on your needs, workspace and workflow:-
Palette is taking pre-orders, and will start shipping units in November 2015. It's made quite a bit of news already. The kits seem to be reasonably priced: the Aluminum Starter kit, containing 5 modules (the core, 2 buttons, 1 slider and 1 dial), costs $199. For what it seems to offer, that's a very competitive price-point. I've bought Logitech mice that have cost nearly as much.
The other three, viz. Aluminum Expert, Aluminum Professional, and Limited Edition Wood Professional kits will set you back $299, $499 and $899 respectively. The expert kit contains 8 modules, while both professional kits contain 15. In addition, they also sell the individual buttons, sliders and dials separately should you need them.
Will I be buying one soon? I don't know yet. I'm sort of leaning towards yes, but I've never really been much of an early adopter. I usually sit it out for a bit and wait for reviews by several users. The Starter Kit is tempting, though and November seems really far away to wait for reviews.
You can have a look at and purchase their products here, and they have a couple of Youtube videos that are worth watching. Watch the videos below for more info, or head over to their channel on Youtube, where in addition to photography, they also have design, music and animation usage examples. Whether or not this product becomes mainstream, hat's off to the design team for envisioning it.