Palette was founded in 2013, when a few Canadians decided they were not satisfied with the current state of human computer interaction and set about developing a modular input device for content creators in particular. A successful Kickstarter campaign followed by the public release in 2014 led to the startup now having an international presence and focusing on their MIDI controller system. Thanks go to Palette for providing a review sample of their intermediate Expert kit for us to take a look at today.
The astute reader may have by now figured out that this is not a keyboard, although you can actually use it as one if you are so inclined. The Palette solution is a collection of buttons, dials, and sliders that use the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technical standard to perform a variety of functions that can be assigned to them. This is not a new thing, mind you, with similar products having been created for musicians and artists alike. However, Palette has also put additional effort in to simply make that one of several possible functions, with other modes directly translating raw data streams from the core module to work with specific programs, including Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Photoshop, Capture One, etc. As such, Palette uses either HID or OS-level media playback APIs (MIDI, for example) or has extensions/plugins that interact with and control third-party software (Adobe CC, for example). What makes the Palette kits even more interesting is Palette's modular concept and use of individual small-form-factor modules which are then controlled by a dedicated GUI-based driver for multiple different applications and even multiple different profile sets for the same application. We shall take a look at this and more in this review and begin as we always do: with the specifications. However, these are merely limited to what you get in the kit owing to the product's special nature.
Palette ships the Expert kit in a two-piece cardboard box with the front in a red color and an illustration of some of the modules, while also identifying the company and product name. On the back are details about the kit and the specifications seen previously. There is not much on the sides here, with the company website as the only useful bit of information available.
Remove the top cover and you will see all the modules and the box of accessories in shaped, cut foam compartments. In fact, these compartments are on both parts of the box, so everything is snugly covered by thick foam on all sides - excellent packaging here! Included is also a quick start guide which points you to the extremely useful help page and points out that there are already useful profiles provided with the driver and on the community profiles page, there for the various supported programs. Those two pages are great places to start as this is really a hardware and software combination working together, and the already built-in basics help cut down the learning curve tremendously.
In the accessories box is a male micro-USB to male Type-A USB cable to connect the kit to your computer via the core module. The cable is not the longest at a little over 1.5', and given you are going to want this close to your monitor, I suggest getting an extension or a longer cable should you not use a laptop and have your tower more than a foot from your monitor. Also included are two stickers for the company should you want to show it off.