TourBox Elite Review: An Impressive Little Time Saver

Since its Kickstarter launch, the TourBox Elite has received a lot of attention. We decided to take a closer inspection to determine if it was worth your support.

Disclaimer: Do your research on any crowdfunding campaign you are considering backing. We only recommend trusted and legitimate campaigns. However, there is always the possibility of losing your money if you back any crowdfunded campaign. PetaPixel received a TourBox loan for review purposes, but is not affiliated with the campaign. This review is to assess the performance of the device in the event that the company delivers a similar product to backers.

After having used several other external editing consoles, I decided it was worth giving this box a shot to see how it worked with Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro. It can also be used as a MIDI controller. The device has been funded by over $420,000, so it is clearly popular. I wanted to try it out for myself.

Design and Build Quality

Remember that I have never used the older TourBox consoles so this Elite version is my first time using the system. The Tourbox Elite weighed in at just under one pound, or 425.7 grams with the batteries.

The device is game-controller-looking, but it is actually sturdy and durable throughout, except for the battery door. The heavy design meant that the tray door and batteries of the pre-release model were easily ripped off every time I lifted the console. The device’s weight seems to be enough to open the compartment even when it is placed gently. TourBox should address this issue before shipping the final units next year. To ensure that the battery tray opened when I wanted, I placed gaffer’s tape on the bottom of the device for the duration of my testing.

Toubox Console Battery Door Gaff Taped Closed

It didn’t take long to discover that TourBox consoles have been a favorite tool for many of my industry colleagues. The exterior of the device is almost identical to the previous one. There are some minor differences in the shape of buttons and battery doors, but that’s about it.

The developers of this console have listened to user feedback and added dual-channel Bluetooth functionality to the device. They even went as far as adding haptic feedback.

Tourbox Console And Wireless Trackball

The layout of the TourBox Elite looked a bit clunky, especially when compared with other consoles like the Loupedeck or Monogram “Palette”. The TourBox Elite’s design is slightly larger than the average adult’s palm-size, but it has a number of quick-access dials and buttons that can all be customized to suit each individual user’s preferences.

Top Down View of the Tourbox Elite Being used with a graphics tablet and macbook.

The company claims that the deck can be used “individually” or with the mouse and drawing tablets. However, many buttons are located in the center of the device, making them easy to reach regardless of which hand is holding the console.

The numbers indicate that the device has a scrollwheel, adjustment knob and a jog dia on the bottom left, a D Pad on the bottom center and then a selection buttons in convenient places no matter what hand is using it. When the device is connected with a computer, the haptic feedback response kicks into action. This gives you both an audible click and force-feedback clicks. Although the vibrating sound and vibrations are useful for precise work, they can be annoying for those who prefer to work quietly or who work with audio and video. I couldn’t find any way to disable this sound.

The device works just as well via Bluetooth as via USB-C, so there is no noticeable input lag.

Installation, Configuration, and Customization

The TourBox Elite, like many new editing consoles, is easy to install on either Apple or Windows. It can also be customized via the device UI. This system can even load presets from other users, which can allow for advanced workflows and enhanced customizations.

The TourBox app is preloaded with basic configurations for Adobe Lightroom, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop Lightroom when you open it. You can download additional presets from the official TourBox Preset site, other users or make your own. You can even customize the TourBox to work with Google Chrome. The application allows users to customize almost any application they use, including macros that allow multiple commands to be activated with one click. TourBox will automatically switch between the applications you have created presets or actions for.

The system may seem overwhelming at first, as there are many more buttons that can be programmed than buttons on the device. However, after some experimentation, it is possible to find the most commonly used tools for each application and assign the appropriate button to them on the console.

Users recommend that you create separate profiles for each stage of your workflow. To avoid accidental shifts in Adobe Lightroom, each step of the workflow should be handled separately. As with all external editing consoles there will be some learning curves. It takes some time to become comfortable with the devices and stop looking for the right button or dial. It is easy to relax and edit from a couch, rather than sitting at a desk.

Tourbox Preset Menu for Lightroom
Tourbox Preset for Photoshop

General Usage

I have had some muscle memory issues since I started using the device in Lightroom and Photoshop over the past few weeks. Despite this, I am already seeing the benefits of the tool, especially when working remotely and traveling.

It is intuitive to use it to edit images. Despite what I initially found to be an odd design, it actually feels very ergonomic. After spending some time with the TourBox Elite, I can see that the buttons feel more natural. It will be easier to navigate through my selections and make quick edits before I move on to applications such as Photoshop. Even with my slow fingers, the TourBox was faster than using my laptop’s trackpad (assuming that I had a mouse). This made me appreciate the versatility of the device whether I was at my desk or on the road.

Photoshop has a steeper learning curve. My laptop was equipped with a Wacom tablet and I was able, with the Tourbox, to program my most commonly used tools into a customized setup. This made it easy to switch between tools with my left hand, while keeping the pen on the tablet the other. Although you could do it with your keyboard, I wanted to try this device as though I was working remotely from a laptop.

Tourbox elite next to wireless keyboard

The scroll wheel allows you to change the modes of each tool. This makes it much easier to switch between healing, spot healing and patch tools. This is also true for the selection tools (object/magic wand/quick select) as well as brush tools. It is possible to save a few seconds for every tool swap. This can be significant when you consider that there are hundreds or even thousands of images.

Clean topdown photo of the tourbox elite

A Time-Saver that is Impressive

Although I was initially not impressed with the device, I started to enjoy it after using it for a few more days. I love its simple design and the ease of programming customizations. Based on what I’ve read about the previous generation consoles, this new version has a better button design and is more durable. This makes it a worthwhile investment, especially when you add in the software updates such as haptic feedback and macro capabilities.

The Bluetooth feature might be worth the cost of the upgrade for users who have Tourbox wired. The price of the upgrade may not be worth it for those who have never used this system.

What are the Alternatives?

There are many external editing consoles on the market today, including the Loupedeck+ consoles at $279 and $549 CT, the $300+ Monogram Creative consoles, the $89 Xencelabs quick keys, or, if you’re looking for something more expensive, the Blackmagic Design mini panels, which retail at over $2,000!

There is a console for every budget, personal preference, customization need, and budget. The only thing that the TourBox Elite costs $268 is that it has the Xencelabs QuickKeys. This makes it more appealing to those who don’t mind losing a port or who want to keep cables off their desk.

Should You Buy It

If the TourBox Elite benefits sound appealing to you, then they may be a good fit for your workflow. It is one of few wireless editing consoles that can be used without losing functionality.