The latest accessor for the Surface range is the Surface Dial. The Surface Dial is a Bluetooth rotary controller for controlling Windows, it is designed primary for the Surface Studio where is magnetically attaches to the screen but it also works with Surface Pro, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book. In fact it seems to work with any Windows 10 machine (I tested it with a Surface Pro 4 and a Dell XPS 15).
The dial is made of aluminium and very solid feeling. It has a rubber base so it doesn’t slid on the desk and has a very smooth feel when rotating. It comes with two AAA batteries.
There is a button to enable pairing mode and it’s nice and quick to pair up. Once paired up you can use the dial to control scrolling, zooming and volume. You press down on the dial and a circular control pops up in Windows where you can select which action you want the dial to control. There is also the option to have custom actions with the dial and you even have the option to have custom actions per app.
A number of apps already support the Surface Dial, a good example is Drawboard PDF which has options for scrolling, pen thinness, rotation and other options. In Groove you can use the dial to control volume (with haptic feedback) and you can use it for scrubbing through the track or switching between tracks. In Microsoft Edge you can use it for scrolling through the page. Even old Win32 apps work with the dial, where ever you have the option to zoom or scroll the dial works.
The idea is you use the pen in one hand and the dial in the other while working on creative apps, to get the benefit I think you would need the Surface Studio in drawboard mode but it does work well on the standard Surface, I found there isn’t enough uses for it to be really worth £89.99 (in the Microsoft Store). I will certainly continue to use the Surface Dial and it’s a well-engineered device I just wish you could do more with it.
Here is my hands on video with the Surface Dial: