Should you buy a Surface Dial for your Surface Pro 6?
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.
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.
Dial 'm' for 'maybe'
A fun, but niche tool
The Surface Dial is firmly aimed at a very small subset of users (artists, creators, or developers), and unless you're using a Surface Studio or a Surface Book 2 15-inch, you should probably steer clear.
Perfect for the Dial
Surface Book 2 (15-inch)
Book your ideas up
The Surface Book 2 15-inch model is an ideal laptop for use with the Surface Dial, with a large display and reversible "canvas" mode for inking on a desk.
Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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