Review: TourBox Neo – a handy editing controller
As an added bonus, it works with both PC and Mac.
Any creator will tell you that any tool that has the potential to speed things up in their workflow is going to be worth the money. Easier workflow, more content going out the door, more money coming in the other way. Simple.
While scripting and shooting do take up a lot of time, the largest chunk could well be in post-production. Editing takes time, and doing great editing takes even more. Remembering all of the keyboard shortcuts in your editing software is a chore, which is why there is no end to custom keyboards for editing, but those only have the pre-existing key combos laid out like a normal QWERTY keyboard. What if there was a better way?
Enter the editing controller, like this $169 TourBox Neo. Arranging the necessary keys in an ergonomic way makes it easier to use one-handed, and the ability to control sliders via knobs and wheels means you don’t need to move both hands to change simple values. This should end up with a quicker workflow, and more time to make content.
Is it perfect? No, but then again most tools aren’t. Read on to find out if the $169 TourBox Neo is right for your use case.
So, what’s it all about?
What’s the first thing you notice about the TourBox Neo? The buttons? The dial? The two wheels? Notice that they’re all different sizes, or orientations, so you can feel for them with your fingers without having to take your eyes off the thing you’re editing. That’s important, as you don’t want your tools to tear your attention away from whatever you’re editing.
In total, it’s got 14 controls, comprised of 11 buttons and three dials. Okay, really it’s got 13 buttons, because the rotary knob and the low-profile wheel can be clicked as well. It might have a small footprint on your desk, but it’s heavy, so it won’t skate around while you’re tweaking things.
Nothing is labeled on-device, so it’s a good thing that every control is physically different, right? That labeling happens all in the companion software, so let’s take a look at that.
The companion app is where all the magic happens. It has pre-set configurations for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Premiere Pro; or you can create your own profiles for your software, or download community-created presets from TourBox.
It works on Windows or macOS, and yes, it works on M1-powered Macs too. It can auto-switch between profiles if you’ve got them linked to specific program files, and the software has one feature that’s huge for me and my usual heavy-handedness – the ability to reduce the sensitivity of the dials and wheels so they don’t zoom through while using them.
So, how good is it?
Okay, I kinda live in Lightroom and Affinity Photo when I’m not writing words, and the TourBox Neo has been a huge help to my workflow.
Anyone who’s tried to change slider settings with a mouse cursor knows the pain of adjustment layers in Lightroom, but the dials on the Neo make them near-effortless while letting me increment in +1 steps instead of +10. That’s a big win right out of the gate, drastically cutting the time it takes me to do pre-edits and color balancing.
The difficulty of learning any new tool is how well you can remember what the different buttons do, and the Neo helps you with a handy on-screen overlay for the four-way controller. It’ll tell you what the four buttons do, while turning the scroll wheel. That makes things substantially easier on your brain, so you can focus on editing without having to check the software to see what you had bound to things.
It’s not as in-depth as competing devices from Loupedeck, but it’s also not as expensive, and it takes up less space on your desk. Once you start adding keyboards, controllers, and pen displays to your desk, all space is at a premium, so I really appreciate that the Neo is just enough to fit under my hand comfortably,
So, should I buy one?
If you’re a photographer or video editor that is heavily into the Adobe ecosystem, the $169 TourBox Neo is a pretty decent editing controller that gives you more fine-grained control than your normal keyboard and mouse. It’s speeded up my Lightroom workflow substantially and should do the same for you once you get over the learning curve. What’s more, it’s made my editing better by allowing me an easy way to do single-digit tweaks instead of increments of 10.
It won’t instantly make you a better editor though, in the same way that buying a better camera won’t immediately make you a better photographer. That said, if you’re going to use it enough to get used to how it can complement your existing flow, it’s easily worth the cash.
Oh, and KnowTechie readers get $10 off at the TourBox storefront, by using code TB20210427US11.
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