Smart knobs have a short and not very illustrious history, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t cool. That, at least, appears to be the thinking at Logitech, which has just added a smart knob (or dial if you’d rather) to its newest wireless keyboard. The Crown, they call it — and the keyboard it sits on is The Craft. Well, they don’t capitalize it that way, but I do.
Basically the Crown lets you control a variety of settings or interface elements depending on the app: Zoom in Photoshop, exposure compensation in Lightroom, column in Excel, and so on. We’ve seen things like this here and there, and Logitech’s is a respectable specimen: understated in design and compatible with major apps out of the box.
Now, to be honest, comparisons to Microsoft’s Surface Dial aren’t really warranted. That one is context-sensitive based on where you place it as well as what app you’re in. It’s meant to turn the Surface Studio into a sort of cyborg creation engine as you wield the pen in one hand and dial in the other.
The Crown is more like someone wrote a script that mapped the volume dial on a keyboard to identify as a human interface device input when you open certain apps. Not exactly groundbreaking, but if you’re buying a wireless keyboard, why not get one with a sweet knob?
The Craft and the Crown, which sounds like a bar that’s too expensive for me to drink at, will cost $199 when it hits stores in October.