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February 2018

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Page 39 of 43 38 POST FEBRUARY 2018 REVIEW hen it comes to control surfaces and interface devices, post pros generally stick to a few tried-and- true, long-in-the-tooth methods. There's the keyboard and mouse that's most common. There are specialized jog-wheel devices akin to old Steinbeck machines. Some editors like Wacom tablets and pen input for precision control. And I can't pos- sibly end this list without including the re- ligiously fanatical track ball devotees. Any and all of these methods work for different users for different reasons. Sometimes it's how we first learned, and we don't want to take the time to re-learn a new method. But like trying a new dish that we "know" we're not going to like, sometimes it can be surprisingly beneficial to attempt a new way to interact with our software. This is the scenario I found myself in just recently when asked to review a Dell Canvas 27. The Canvas is a 27-inch pen and touch display intended to augment digital creative work. In my case, it was primarily used for video editing, motion graphics work and some general draw- ing applications. To be clear, the Canvas is not a standalone device. It's a monitor that relies on a separate Windows 10 PC for functionality. Some people will see the Canvas in use and get the idea that it can be used by itself, but this isn't the case. My review kit was shipped with a Dell Precision 5520 laptop to run the Canvas. Dell also sent one of its fancy 38-inch curved ultra wide 4K monitors. GET GOING The setup process for the Canvas was a bit trying. I was sent a reviewer's guide, complete with detailed written instructions on how best to connect all three devices together. Even so, using all of these devic- es requires a lot of cabling. Besides all of the cabling, I also had to contend with the massive footprint required for a 27-inch monitor that lays almost flat, a laptop with multiple cables on both sides and a gigan- tic curved monitor. I have a decent-sized 72x20-inch desk, and it took some careful planning and trial and error to fit all of these onto the desk. At first, I attempted to keep my other 27-inch monitor on the desk for even more screen real estate, but this proved impossible. Not only did I run out of desk surface, I also realized I didn't have any way to connect a fourth display. Once setup was complete, getting started with the software was the next challenge. The Canvas screen will function right away for any general use with stylus or finger, but some additional configur- ing will maximize the capabilities of your work. First, the Windows 10 Creator's Update provides system settings for customizing and programming the pen and totem that come with the Canvas. The pen is a stylus with interchangeable tips or nibs, while the totem is a click- able wheel providing yet another way to quickly access certain functions. I found the pen to be very intuitive, but even after watching videos and reading instructions, the totem's usefulness eluded me. It's not that the totem isn't useful at all. It can be programmed to perform nearly any shortcut in many applications. In certain art applications like Photoshop or Illustrator, it can be used to adjust parameters like hue, saturation or brightness on the fly with- out repeatedly entering different menus. However, since I was primarily doing fairly standard post production work, I couldn't seem to find much better use for it other than programming a twist left to "undo" and a twist right to "redo." While this was still a useful modification, using it never be- came a regular part of my routine. Among keyboard, trackpad, pen and finger input, it would have required even more hand hopping when I could simply use the trusty "CTRL-Z/CTRL-Y" instead. In contrast, combining the pen with DELL CANVAS 27 W A SOLID INTERACTIVE DEVICE BY PAUL SCHMUTZLER KNOXVILLE, TN EMAIL: PAUL@ THESCHMUTZLER. COM TWITTER: @ THESCHMUTZLER The Canvas is a 27-inch, pen and touch display. The Canvas is a 27-inch, pen and touch display.

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