Company: Griffin Technology
I had heard a few Mac people talking about the PowerMate, and up until a month ago, I simply shrugged my shoulders and went on my merry way. I knew it was some kind of volume knob that would glow or pulse or something, but that was about it. Just what I need, I thought, another USB device I won’t use.
Boy was I ever wrong!
First, yes, this thing is really cool. The one tested for this review is a machined aluminum, with a plastic base that sits on soft rubber. This prevents the things from being easily moved on your desktop. The bottom is also where the unit pulses and glows, giving off a very high-tech, eerie blue color.
The machined aluminum PowerMate (Mac and Windows compatible) acts as a scroll wheel, a volume control, and a host of other functions. I did not test functionality under any pre-Mac OS X, but the control panel located in the system preferences allows you to set a myriad number of functions. Everything from how the knob operates to the way the blue light displays is customizable. I particularly like the ability to have the PowerMate pulse at different speed rates.
The knob itself is also clickable. Simply pushing down on the knob can produce different responses, depending on the program you are working in. For instance, in a web browser, pushing down on the knob will go back to your previous web page. In iTunes, it pauses or plays the current song. Very handy.
No, the PowerMate does not do anything you cannot do with your current keyboard and mouse. But as Macintosh users, we simply cannot overlook the “cool factor.” This thing is flat-out amazingly cool.
That said, you have to ask yourself if the coolness factor is worth the asking price; $45.00. As a reviewer, I can tell you the item is neat, cool, works great, etc… Only you can decide if the price is worth it. For me? Sure, you bet. Once I saw one in action, I had to have one.
The PowerMate is a gee-whiz item, but it also has some very useful functions, especially as a jog wheel in iMovie or Final Cut Pro. Taking that functionality into account, as well as the cool factor, and I have to give the PowerMate a perfect hardware rating. Once you see one in person, you will want one!
MacMice Rating: 5 out of 5