The Griffin PowerMate Is A Great Gadget

This is a trivial little thing, but it’s making me smile today. I was pondering how improve my experience using a soft phone on my desktop PC. Something that would be handy is a physical interface to adjust volume or mute the speakerphone when I need to answer a call incoming on my Polycom IP650. Y’see I usually join VUC calls from Eyebeam, but have to take business calls at the same time.

A solution was found at Think Geek where they offer the Griffin Technologies PowerMate, a USB attached rotary encoder……yes…it’s a knob…a glorious chrome knob!

I suppose the PowerMate should truly be known as a “shaft encoder.” When installed with its driver it lets you select various functions to be controlled from the turning, pressing, or pressing & turning. It’s very slick.

It can be programmed for each application. By default it turns the Windows audio playback up/down and mutes…which is perfect for my soft phone issue. In my web browser I set it to scroll up and down long pages.

It’s difficult to describe how revolutionary this little device can be. I’ve spend time in various recording studios and editing facilities, where I was typically greeted by acres of buttons and knobs. Computers, while often more capable than traditional hardware, are from a user interface perspective sometimes disappointing. For under $40 the little PowerMate gives my desktop PC at least a little of the personality of a big audio mixing console. It’s sweet.