tourbox

Review: TheTourbox Photo & Video Editing Controller

ACR Preset
If you watched my video, you saw me create most of this Adobe Camera RAW preset. Additional details of the controls are in a text file zipped along with the preset. I'll update this with new versions as I refine it.
Our Score
7.9
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Tourbox Controller for Photoshop & Lightroom

The Tourbox is a relatively inexpensive controller for photo and video editing, with stock presets for Photoshop and Lightroom, but with numerous user-created presets available on the company’s website as well. After a few months of using the Tourbox, I finally feel like I have a good grip on its capabilities and its weaknesses. Overall, I think it’s a good buy… but it won’t be for everyone.1Tourbox sent me this unit to review, free of charge. Although this post is not sponsored, I did get the unit for free. If you buy one, it will support my work, especially if you buy it directly from Tourbox. Thank you!

The Basics

The Tourbox has an uncanny resemblance to a mouse that has been stuck onto a gaming controller; it has three different wheels and dials and an additional eleven buttons, each of which can be mapped to a keyboard shortcut from your program(s) of choice. However, the buttons can also be used in combination with each other and the dials, and you can also get addition shortcuts from double clicks. This all adds up to a lot of functionality.

All of the settings are configured and stored in the Tourbox Console, which you can set to start up with your computer. You can set up presets for a variety of programs, and the console will automatically switch between them according to which program is active (or you can select them manually).

The Good

Though the Tourbox is inexpensive, it is built into a sturdy, heavy case, weighing just under a pound, keeping it from sliding around on the desk when you operate the controls. The assortment of wheels and buttons are helpful for just about anything that you need to do in Photoshop or most other editing programs.

While other controllers out there may have more sliders, knobs and buttons, they end up being so complex that they’re no better than simply using the keyboard shortcuts that they’re intended to replace. The Tourbox is compact and simple enough to be useful, but complex enough to be powerful.

In general, setup and/or customization of the Tourbox controls is a quick and simple matter. The included presets for Photoshop and Lightroom are very useful, but changes are quick and easy, as demonstrated in the video.

The Bad

I’m not crazy about the ergonomics of the Tourbox, but it’s just fine after you get used it it, and while the controls are useful, the main knob and the flat dial both feel somewhat cheap and plasticky.

The Tourbox console is helpful in customizing the controls of the device for each program, but it’s not helpful when keyboard shortcuts don’t exist for what you want to do. For example, in Lightroom, there are keyboard shortcuts for each of the basic Develop Module sliders (eg., contrast, exposure, etc), so you can set button to select them directly from the Tourbox, but the same controls in Adobe Camera RAW do not have keyboard shortcuts, and as such, there’s no way to select them directly with the Tourbox. Some Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) controllers have overcome this sort of limitation: select a button or knob on the computer software, and the controller will be mapped to it.

The Price

The Tourbox costs Checking... on Amazon, and currently costs $169 directly from the Tourbox website, where you can also apply this coupon code [TB2020081401MG] to get an addition ten dollars off, bringing the total to $159. This is considerably less than the Loupedeck products that cost anywhere from $250 to $550. On the other hand, it is quite a bit more than the Shuttle Pro v2, which costs just $99, and may be more comfortable for some users (especially leftys), but I haven’t used the Shuttle to compare otherwise.

Conclusion

All in all, the Tourbox is not too expensive and has the potential to be very useful. Since I’ve been using Photoshop for 25 years and am thoroughly familiar (and fast) with the keyboard shortcuts, I don’t find it as helpful there as I would have if I were just starting out.

On the other hand, I find it incredibly useful when I’m working in DaVinci Resolve, which I have only been using regularly for a few months, now. Even if it didn’t work in Photoshop, I’d buy it just for use in Resolve.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to have dedicated, hardware controls for editing, rather than manipulating images on a screen or memorizing keyboard shortcuts, then the Tourbox is powerful, easy to use, and inexpensive: definitely worth a try!

Review: TheTourbox Photo & Video Editing Controller
Build Quality
7.5
Design
8
Software
8.5
Ease of Use
8.5
Value
7
Reader Rating1 Vote
8
Good!
Easy to Use
Not too complex in the hand
Easy to Configure
Powerful features actually save time
Not So Good
Build Quality of Knob & Dial
Can only use if keyboard shortcuts exist
7.9
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