We must admit that we love tech ‘toys’. We own and use a 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise darn near daily. Before that we use (and still own) a wireless SpaceMouse. We own and use a Shuttle Pro and use it daily for Excell, Photoshop, and DaVinci Resolve. Those two devices are two that we cannot even think about not using… and relying solely on keyboard shortcuts?! Fuggabouit. It would be like tying one hand behind our back and trying to hit our typical 100 words per minute typing speed. It. Just. Is. A. Non-starter. We are however always looking for something better. Something that will shave a minute here and a minute there off our workflow and make us even more efficient.
Thus, the idea of just using the TourBox 2020 was both terrifying and exciting. After 200 hundred hours of testing and pages and pages of notes we can make a few recommendations and walk you through our thought process.
SolidWorks 2021: CAD/CAM
Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks is one of the premier CAD/CAM/CAE programs used by professionals and prosumers alike around the world. It was created with the goal of building 3D CAD software that was easy-to-use, affordable, and above all else extremely powerful.
For testing a few simple models were created from scratch, then manipulated and combined into a SolidWorks 3D assembly file. These include a two inch long threaded #8 bolt, washer for said bolt, the insertion of a McMaster-Carr nut and the creation of a ‘wing nut’ for it. Something we have done countless times in the past.
The above test was first carried out using just a keyboard and Logitech wireless Trackball, then re-created using a 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse Enterprise + keyboard + trackball, then re-created with a Shuttle Prov v2 + keyboard + trackball, and finally with the review device + keyboard + trackball. If necessary, for those devices lacking ‘3D mouse’ capabilities, a wireless SpaceMouse compact was added. Each test was informally timed, but the overall user-experience and overall useability is what we were most concerned with.
First, let us be clear. This is not a device marketed towards the 3D CAM/CAD market. Then again, neither is the Shuttle Pro v2 that we used before buying a dedicated Enterprise model either. Like the Shuttle Pro v2, the TourBox 2020 lacks 3D mouse abilities and as such is just going to be less than optimal. It does however have a veritable ton of buttons and three different scroll options that when customized and configured can replicate a good chunk of the SpaceMouse Enterprise options. So much so that many hobbyist users, and other non-professionals, will find the lower cost of TourBox 2020 with a 3DConnexion ‘puck’ (aka SpaceMouse Compact) for 3D control will do nearly everything that the SpaceMouse Enterprise can offer. It certainly will not be an optimized workflow and you will be moving your hand from one device to another, but it actually is a better combination than the SpaceMouse Compact /w Shuttle Pro v2. So on its own we would rate it a 5 out of 10 and with a SpaceMouse Compact a solid 7 (with the SpaceMouse Enterprise be a good 9.5, and Shuttle Pro V2 being 4)… which actually is higher than we expected given the focus of the design team does not include CAD/CAM applications.
DaVinci Resolve: A/V Editing
DaVinci Resolve is a color correction and non-linear video editing (NLE) application that is now owned and solid by BlackMagic Design. While not as popular as Adobe Premier, the DaVinci Resolve Studio edition is both powerful and very intuitive to use. In the years to come its onetime / lifetime ‘free upgrades to latest versions’ path is almost certain to woo more buyers away from Adobe’s monthly rental scheme.
For testing we set out to create a short video of approximately 14-15 minutes in length, using 40 clips that vary from 30seconds to 5 minutes, as well as pre-created titles. Each test run involves a blank slate and the importation, insertion, a/v manipulation, transition insertions, and finally exportation of the file video file. This was first done using just a keyboard and trackball. Then redone using a Shuttle Pro v2 + keyboard + trackball, and then re-created with the review device + keyboard + trackball. Each test was informally timed, but the overall user-experience and overall useability is what we were most concerned with.
Quite honestly, we tested the TourBox 2020 in SolidWorks for more curiosity than anything. Instead, the area we were most hopeful about is its abilities as an audio/video editing aide. While we own a Shuttle Pro v2 and have been using it since its release it is not a perfect editing tool for video, especially novices. It is almost too low profile to be truly comfortable for long term usage and generally speaking is a bit of a bodge. It is however one of the best inexpensive editing aides out there for video editors on a tight budget.
Before we continue, we do need to make one thing clear. We are DaVinci Resolve ‘editors’. We are not ‘cutters’… and honestly rarely open the cut page. The vast majority of our editing occurs on the Edit or the Fusion or Color pages. As such our experience and opinion may vary widely from yours if you mainly use the Cut Page. First and foremost, it is rather obvious the design team behind this device were photographers and digital artists as the layout of the TourBox 2020 is just sub-optimal for video editing. While it is indeed true there are three, which really is overkill, ‘jog wheels’… all three are located in the wrong side. To ‘get’ what we mean all you need do is open a top view picture of the 2020 and place your hand over it. If you are right-handed, notice where the wheels are on your left hand? A proper layout for 90 percent of people (us righties) would have all the buttons ‘mirrored’ and the wheels/dials near your index and thumb.
Since they are not you will be constantly repositioning your hand as you transition from one command to another. The more movements and the more you have to think about what you want to do the less efficient you will be. So much so that you probably will have a tough time getting into the zone where thought and action almost become one and you churn out finished product like a machine.
Worse still is the dials are dual purpose with hidden buttons underneath them. This makes them rather ‘tippy’ and on many occasions when we went to activate their hidden button the jog wheel was activated… and move the location one or more frames ahead. These two issues make the TourBox 2020 extremely sub-optimal for video editing purposes.
Lastly, TourBox does not include a default layout for DaVinci Resolve. You will either have to download a community created layout or make your own. Both of which are sub-optimal solutions. So, expect to spend a bit of time and trial ‘n’ error creating one. TourBox really… really needs to take a page from Contour Design and include more presets for more programs. Overlooking a big name like DaVinci Resolve just does not give a great first impression.
On the positive side, the combination of a veritable ton of buttons does mean that if you can get over the above issues you will have a lot of time saving shortcuts right at your fingertips. Furthermore, even if it is sub-optimal compared to a Shuttle Pro v2 it still is leagues better than using a keyboard. It will be faster. Your will be faster. You will be more effective and efficient. It just will not be optimal and you will never reach your full potential like you can with a Black Magic Design Speed Editor (for cutters) or a Shuttle Pro v2 (for us edit page users).
On the truly positive side, when we loaned this to a family member who wanted to learn DaVinci Resolve they actually picked up on its layout faster and easier than we did. Honestly, their results were within error tolerances (as they are novices) of when they used the Shuttle Pro v2. Some of this is because they are left hand dominant, some is because they come from a ‘cutting’ and not ‘editing’ background and used the Cut page not Edit page, and some is it just looks and feels like an oversized game controller… to the point they complained about the weight when they did pick it up and wished it wireless not wired. We must admit that when held in two hands the layout does make a lot more sense but that does make using a keyboard or mouse… rather difficult to say the least. Once again it is eminently useable, it just is not optimized for video editing.
Adobe PS and LR: Photo Editing
Adobe PhotoShop and Lightroom are the premier photographic preparation and editing tools used around the world by countless millions. So much so that these two are, IONSHO, the only reason their subscription service did not crash and burn like it should have.
For testing we took a random 50 raw files off our Nikon D850’s card and first prepared them in Lightroom and then edited them in Photoshop. First using just a keyboard + mouse, then with a Shuttle Pro v2 + keyboard + mouse, and finally with the review sample keyboard + mouse.
The moment we started using the TourBox 2020 for working with RAW files is when we knew precisely who this device had been tailor made for… as it is fast. So fast it makes a Shuttle Pro v2 look slow, and keyboard and mouse only? Not even in the same league. Yes, your hand will still be moving around way, way too much for our liking. Yes, the jog wheels are tippy and feel rather less than optimal… but none of this really matters. Not only do TourBox actually included a pretty decent default for both Lightroom and PhotoShop (that you really only have to tweak to your personal preferences/work patterns) but everything really is at your fingertips. It really is obvious a lot of forethought and effort went into this device for photography professionals, and it shows.
We were so impressed with what it can do when paired with a keyboard and mouse that we broke out ye old Wacom tablet to see if it could keep up. This honestly is when magic truly happens, as let’s face it tablets + pen are great for some things but color slider manipulation and the like really is not one of them. They really are clunky compared to a good mouse or trackball, but when paired with this TourBox 2020 your workflow will be enhanced to levels that you will not have thought possible. Better still is the learning curve really is not all that great and within a few short hours we were banging out finished product faster than we ever had before. This alone turned a product that would be tough to justify into one that we would buy in a heartbeat… especially if they ever make a ‘proper’ version with a layout for us righties.