Just this Wednesday, Microsoft introduced its new Surface devices to the world. On top of the Surface-branded all-in-one PC and laptop, the Redmond giant also proudly unveiled the Surface Dial — a peripheral device with primarily artistic functionality that serves as a companion to the Surface Studio. Interestingly, the form factor and use of the device appear to be very familiar that it was easy for many people to draw comparison between Microsoft’s wireless device and Apple’s dated Griffin PowerMate.
According to AppleInsider, though the Surface Dial is quite comparable to the Griffin PowerMate, the latter just couldn’t do some of the things the former has been designed to be capable of. For one thing, the PowerMate isn’t easily detected when placed on top of a Mac’s screen unlike the Surface Dial that’s made to seamlessly connect to a Surface device once placed atop its screen. Not only that, the Surface Dial automatically turns on its digital wheel function that makes it easy for users to just turn it for color options.
Apple’s PowerMate was released way back in 2002. At the time, the device was designed to be connected physically to a computer in order for it to work. At present, there are two types of existing PowerMate devices — one that is USB powered and another one that works via Bluetooth connectivity. Both peripherals are used as a tool for Photoshop, audio and video editing, as well as a notifier (the device's base lights up to prompt users about notifications on their computers).
The Surface Dial will undeniably follow in the footsteps of the PowerMate, with Microsoft confirming that it can be used to adjust computer volume when Pandora or Spotify is running. The peripheral is also made to control whatever it is on screen. It even has haptic feedback, so it can register controls based on the clicks users do. The Verge reports that the Surface Dial presumably lets users create custom menus as well.
Though Apple’s PowerMate and Microsoft’s Surface Dial are similar in terms of functionality, the Redmond giant is setting its device apart from Apple’s by making the Dial compatible with a wider range of old and new computers. At release, however, the Surface Dial will only work with the Surface Studio, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book. On the contrary, the PowerMate Bluetooth only works with Mac devices launched in 2011 and later, while the USB version requires PowerPC and OS X 10.3.9 or later for it to function.
The Surface Dial is releasing on Nov. 10 and it is expected to sell for $99 when bought as a separate device. For people who are preordering the Surface Studio, however, the puck-like peripheral will be included with the all-in-one PC for free. Meanwhile, Apple is selling its PowerMate USB for $40 and its Bluetooth counterpart for $60.