Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 05/22/03 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Contour Design ShuttleXpress

Multimedia control surface, shuttle/jog controller By Dave Nagel
Contour Design was one of the first peripheral makers to recognize the impending popularity of desktop video production and merge professional-level hardware into the consumer price range. This was a few years back when the company introduced its ShuttlePro control surface, a USB-based multimedia controller and shuttle/jog, just about the only affordable device of its kind on the market at the time.

Times, as they are wont to do, have changed since then, and manufacturers have burst forth with devices to meet any video production need at just about any reasonable price point. But Contour has not been left behind in the crater of this explosion of new equipment. The company recently launched the ShuttleXpress, an even more affordable multimedia controller and shuttle/jog that's easily a match for the original. In fact, I like it a little more than the original.

The hardware
The ShuttleXpress is a very simple USB-based shuttle/jog device. Like its predecessor, the ShuttlePro, ShuttleXpress offers an inner jog wheel and an outer shuttle ring. The 360-degree wheel allows you to jog at a desired number of frames per increment. And the spring-loaded shuttle ring allows you to fast forward and reverse video at varying speeds. (The outer ring is rubberized for a comfortable grip, exactly the same as the ShuttlePro.) Also like its predecessor, it includes several additional buttons that can be programmed to the user's needs. The ShuttlePro has 13 such buttons; the new ShuttleXpress has five.

Now, at no point in the last couple of years or so since I've owned a ShuttlePro have I ever used more than four of the programmable buttons. Furthermore, I was never really happy with the layout of these buttons. The ShuttleXpress, however, has a more natural button layout and doesn't waste desktop space with additional buttons that I don't need or want. And so it's also (thankfully) smaller than the original. (This is not at all to disparage the ShuttlePro; I just happen to like everything about the ShuttleXpress better.)

Despite its smaller size, though, it's weighty enough to stay in place when in use. And the five rubber grips on the underside help with this, and also help keep it stable. (One of my problems with the ShuttlePro was that it seemed a bit wobbly; this is not the case with the ShuttleXpress.)

It also includes a much longer USB cable than the original--6 feet compared with the original 2.75 feet of the ShuttlePro. This is an important consideration for those who, like me, keep their computers away from their input devices.

In terms of performance, I can detect no difference between the two. Both work perfectly well, offering smooth operation and quick response. This, of course, is difficult to quantify. But suffice to say that there is no noticeable latency, and the device behaves as expected when connected directly to the computer or through a USB hub.

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Related Keywords:Contour Design ShuttleXpress Multimedia control surface, shuttle/jog controller

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