Should you buy a Surface Dial for your Surface Pro 6?

Should you buy a Surface Dial for your Surface Pro 6?

Best answer: Honestly, probably not. While the Surface Dial is a nifty accessory for artists, it's best used with devices with more screen real estate like the 15-inch Surface Book or the Surface Studio. The smaller display on the Pro 6 makes it a little tough to use.A puck for 100 bucks: Surface Dial ($100 at Amazon)Better Dial companion: Surface Book 2 (15-inch) (From $2,400 at Amazon)

The Surface Pro is just a tad too small for the Dial

For those who don't know, the Surface Dial is a hockey puck-like device that is touch sensitive in multiple ways. It can detect when it's resting on a compatible Surface display; developers and artists are able to add on-screen functions to the Dial, allowing you to easily scroll through and fine-tune your brushes and other settings, primarily in art apps. Popular inking apps like Photoshop and Sketchable both make good use of the Surface Dial, to that end.

You can use the Surface Dial without placing it on-screen, however, and artists who find themselves using lots of keybinds and shortcuts might appreciate what it has to offer. That said, when it's not on-screen it doesn't really offer anything a keyboard or mouse scroll wheel doesn't already provide. For me, the real value of this thing is when you've placed it on the display, and you, unfortunately, lose too much screen space on the Surface Pro 6 to make the Dial worthwhile.

Surface Book 2 with Dial

Surface Book 2 with Dial (Image credit: Windows Central)

The Surface Pro 6 is still a better option than other Surface devices, like the Go, but there are much better options if you're looking for the perfect Dial/Surface combination.

If you're not a digital artist, the Surface Dial isn't even worth recommending since it has limited features beyond a small subset of creative apps. You can use it to control media in apps like Spotify, but do you really want to spend $100 for the privilege?

If you are a digital artist with a Surface Studio or Surface Book 2 15-inch, the Surface Dial can be a pretty fun tool to add into the mix. It's only really worth it on Surface devices with enough screen real estate, so unless you have one, everybody else should probably steer clear.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!