Review: Contour ShuttlePRO 2 Multimedia Controller
Posted May 7, 2004

Sometimes, it's the little things that count. The latest Mac G5s are video studio powerhouses—64-bit, dual-processor, RAM-rodded workhorses that give you everything you need right out of the box. Everything, that is, except a decent mouse. You'd think that, after all these years, Apple would have figured out that most users want a mouse with both left- and right-click functionality (or, at the very least, a scroll wheel, for heaven's sakes). For the $1799 or more that you'll pay for a G5, you shouldn't have to shell out another $25 for a decent mouse.

You do, though, and you'd do well to consider going all-out and spending $129.95 for a Contour ShuttlePRO Multimedia Controller. It's like a mouse on steroids. Keyboard shortcuts and right-clicking are all well and good, but the ShuttlePRO adds a jog wheel, spring-loaded shuttle ring, and 15 buttons, each of which is assigned an application-specific function or can be programmed to the function of your preference.

The ShuttlePRO offers settings for everything from Final Cut Pro to Avid XpressDV and Photoshop to Microsoft Office. (It's not just a Mac toy, either; presets on the PC side include Adobe Premiere, Pinnacle Edition, and Sony Vegas.) The ShuttlePRO doesn't so much replace the standard mouse as supplement it; you're still going to want to keep the mouse plugged in (even if it's the Apple-supplied kind) for your basic functions, like dragging and dropping.

In fact, you need to use your mouse to open and modify the settings in the software, though the presets should provide plenty of options for most editors. For example, in the edit mode of Final Cut Express (there are separate actions set for log and capture in FCE), the jog wheel moves your footage forward or backwards frame by frame while the spring-loaded shuttle ring moves it in either direction anywhere from 3-30 frames per second.

The functions assigned to the nine buttons at the top of the controller include Add Edit, Add Video Transition, and Insert Clip. The side buttons handle Mark In and Out, while the lower buttons' actions include Ripple Delete and Select Edit. You can custom-design your own settings, too. The learning curve is fairly steep, but the user's manual gives you the basics and then some. And once you're comfortable with it, you just might never use an old-fashioned mouse for editing again.

www.contourdesign.com

System Requirements: Mac—G3 running Mac OS 8.6 or later, USB port, 10MB free HDD for software installation; PC—Windows 98/SE/Me/2000/XP, USB port; 10MB free HDD.