Palette Aluminium Expert Control Surface Kit Review

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“Cut your editing time by 30% with fast, precise, hands-on control. Palette’s system of magnetically-connected sliders, dials, and buttons enables you to build a completely personalized controller.”

These promises can be found on the website of Palette Gear. Can you do 30% faster editing with some cool looking illuminated buttons? Let’s find out in this review!

A couple of months ago Palette Gear send me the Expert Kit for review and testing. And this Kit has been on my desk ever-since, simply because it’s a nice addition to my video editing in Premiere and… it looks great next to my Microsoft Surface wireless keyboard. But it would be too easy to say that it’s a flawless must-have-system. Here are some of my findings:

Expert Kit

Like I mentioned I received the Expert Kit, but there are two other standard configurations available:

    • Starter – $199.99 USD

    • Expert – $299.99 USD

    • Professional – $499.99 USD

 

In the expert kit you will find 8 Modules

  • 1 Core with Colour Screen
  • 2 Buttons
  • 3 Dials
  • 2 Sliders

Palette Geat Expert Kit

Build Quality

To be honest, I was quite surprised by the build-quality of this kit. Somehow I expected a cheap plastic product, based on the pictures that I had seen on palettegear.com. But can happily report that it is excellent.  The Anodized Aluminum on top looks very premium and combined with the Rubberized Base it provides a good grip on my desk. The top of the dials module is also made of a high quality metal. The slider is made of plastic, looks good and give descent feedback. The only thing that I don’t like is the cheap plastic top of the buttons. Ok, it’s not a complete disaster, but still it is looking far less premium then the rest of the product. Palette told me that they carry a sense of nostalgia since they are actual arcade buttons. And because they are arcade buttons they are very durable and can withstand a crazy high amount of use. That makes kinda sense I guess …

Software

If you want to use the Palette Gear, you can need to install the software named ‘Palette App2’. This intuitive app displays the way you have put the modules together and that make it very easy to adjust.

In this app you can choose pre-configured templates for a lot of applications, or you can fully customize and map your own module setup. You can program any module to the most common functions in Adobe software. There is an option to set the range and sensitivity for dials and sliders. Also the colors of the LED Lights are fully customizable. This is all is very easy to setup! Palette Gear can be used with multiple applications like Adobe Lightroom (classic), Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, Premiere Pro, After Effects, InDesign and Capture One Pro. I have mostly used the EDIT and  GRADE template for PR and programmed the two buttons to ‘Razor all tracks’ and ‘Ripple delete’.

I would have loved to have 2 more buttons and 1 dial less in the expert kit setup for PR editing. I think I would use the ‘Razor’ and ‘apply default transitions’ for the other 2 buttons. That’s kind of the great thing about the modularity of Palette Gear, they offer the modules as add ons as well. You can also use a dial to switch between profiles, which allows you to keep those two buttons assigned as is and then have another two buttons available in another profile. That is a good solution, but I still would advice to buy 2 extra buttons. You can buy separate modules on Amazon, links below:

My recommendation to Palette Gear is to add the option to use the buttons to switch between modes, for example between pointer and razor. That would make the product complete. Palette Dev team told me that they are working on this feature. Expected release is summer 2018. Another feature that I requested is to add a standard LUT (Look up table in Lumetri color panel) to a button.

The app was unstable at first use, but after the update it runs perfectly stable on the current version 2.3.6.

“Cut your editing time by 30%”

I have only used it on Premiere Pro and a little bit of After Effects, because those are the main applications that I use for multiple hours daily. So 30% time saving would be a HUGE benefit…  Hold on! Before you already think about starting a new hobby to fill up all the free time that you earn with using the Palette Gear kits, I did not experience anything near that 30%. Yes, is does help a little bit on timeline editing, mostly in cutting and applying ripple delete. I also did some color correction with the sliders and dials, and if you use if often enough it can be a handy addition to your mouse and keyboard. It does need a lot of ‘training’, it can take a couple weeks to retrain your muscle memory. Until that point you won’t have any time benefit from using this product.

Overall conclusion

After forcing myself to use this instead of my mouse and keyboard only setup, I actually started to miss the Palette Gear when it’s not at my disposal. But I also have to admit that it took me a while (weeks!) to get to this point. Maybe that’s just because I am bad in braking my old habits. Anyway, if you buy this little toy, give it some time to get used to it.

I understand the price of the product, the quality is very very good! It is fully modular and the software is great. But I would ONLY pay $299.99 USD for the expert kit if you spend  the majority of your time in Lightroom / Premiere / Photoshop etc. If you use these programs a couple of hours a week, I don’t think that this is worth the investment. Sure, it looks cool on your desk, but it needs to be a part of your daily routine to earn back the investment.

Overall a solid recommend, if you are a daily user of Adobe software! And if Palette adds my functionality requests it’s a definite recommend form my side.

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