What it is/does: A programmanble input device
Reviewed by: The Genesis Factor
Manufacturer : Contour Designs
Bottomline: High level of customizabiity with and easy to use interface and nice ergonomics.
- -1) At 4.25" its big, and no amount of modification will change that. Not their fault, and it helps their design in ways, but for our application, its not too desirable either.
- -.5)Also, there are some programming limitations that the company plans to address.
Manufacturer website: http://www.contourdesign.com/
Purchased from an MP3car Member
A handy dandy, programmable, albeit big, device that is powerful enough to run your carputer without ever touching the screen...well...almost... Lackluster phone support thus far, yet email support has proven useful. Even for $50, itís a worth addition to your carputer. A HIGHLY recommended add to your system for those of us without touch screen and a nice addition regarless for those of us with touch screen.
When it arrived, at first glance, two things came into my mind: that looks cool. Where will it fit? At 4.25" in diameter, the Shuttle press was palm sized and, looking at my interior, possible a waste of money. Well, I have my input device I hope, and its only $25 gone. I installed it, toyed with the interface to make sure it wasn't, and then tossed it aside, and went on with the rest of the project. It collected dust on my room floor until one day, a week ago, I got the sudden urge to play with it. I haven't put it down since.
One Must See the Beauty Under the Beast..
This device lacks the elegance of let's the, the pulsating, polished aluminum knob of the Griffin PowerMate. However, in my opinion, pretty just doesn't cut it. To put it into reference, Iíll attempt to illustrate what I mean through something that most of us guys can understand, as chauvinistic as it may sound or be- women. I've dated ex wrestlers and Iíve dated models. With women, at some point in the relationship, you look past the exterior and you analyze the substance beneath. That's when you decide how long you think you two will last and you two were meant to be. Well, the shutteXpress was no different. It seemed too bulky for viable usability, yet, upon an introspective look, Iím going to FIND a way to use it. We're going to last a long time, the Shuttle press and me. Here's why.
Pleasant to the Touch...
An input device needs to be ergonomic. When it comes to hand sized, small doesn't cut it. This device was made to be used for HOURS on end at the world's leading digital movie and music studios. It's meant to be comfortable, which it is. Slightly awkward at first, especially since I have big hands, the shuttleXpress, with practice comfortably fits your digits while giving you full access to all the features a finger bend away. In my opinion, that's a good design.
Form Meets Function
However, this device isn't meant to just be comfortable, it's mean to be powerful. Then, when you think you've figured it all out, its gets even more powerful. Out of the box, the shuttleXpress comes with preconfigured button settings for over 90 programs, from high-powered, A/V editing programs, such as ULead Video Studio and Photoshop, to everyday programs, such as Word, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player. It even has preset settings for UnReal Tournament. Each setting is visible in detail in the control panel, but more on that later. There's a Global setting that allows you to work through the Explorer.exe shell as well. Even more, the control panel software actually senses what the program of focus is and automatically switches to the appropriate, program specific button setting. Right out of the box you have extreme functionality and brainless ease of use, but what do you expect from a company that makes products featured in Mac Magazine. It's got to be simple and intuitive- and it is.
Function Meets...Customizable Function.
But that's just the beginning. That's the first layer of the cake. What is really nice about this device is that if the settings don't meet your fancy, you can customize every button to the way you want it with ease. In the Control Panel, there's the Contour Shuttle Device icon, where near ultimate power is just a double click away. You are met with a window and probably one of the easiest and well thought out customizing/programming window Iíve faced.
Look, it obeys...
Programming the shuttleXpress is cake. Using the Application Setting drop box, you select the application you want to change. Then, you can either click the button you want to customize on the shuttleXpress or select it from the User Action drop down box. With the outer ring, not only can you select the values of each of the 15 positions, such as Center, Right 2, Left 3, if you so choose, you can select what the program does as it progresses through those values, in either direction, such as from Right 1->2 or Left 7->6. Then you select a computer response which ranges from keyboard keystrokes to mouse clicks and wheel scrolls to even an option that states "Same as lower value", which is useful for programming the outer ring. After, you can select the keystroke, from simple things, like P for Play or a left mouse click or wheel spin, or more complex keystrokes, such as Ctrl Alt-Del or Shift-Enter. Thereís even a checkbox with smart release, which is like sticky keys, where you hold down the keys until the keystroke is finished. Next, you select a frequency of times this action occurs from a drop box that leaves you with few wants. Finally, you can name, or rename the action to your desire. Absolute cake. Sounds too good to be true? It took 10 minutes for me to program my shuttle in such a way that in the Explorer.exe shell, I could navigate between programs and start new ones, through any list, dropdown , or explorer window I wanted, no mouse or keyboard required. That's a damn good slice of cake right there.
What makes this cake even sweeter is that you can do this for any application that has an exe file. That's right, anything that's not listed as a known application can be in about 5 clicks. For me, I created a new setting for Media Engine, my proposed shell for my carputer. After reviewing the hotkeys that it comes with, it took no more than 30 minutes to program the buttons in a way that I deemed fit to my needs as best as I could get it. Want to save your settings and info? The control panel has import and export options which save your goods to a second .pref, contour's proprietary preferences extension, file. Want to share your settings? Any user can import then as long as they have the same device.
Part II below...