Recently my wife bought a new microwave for our apartment, and it has a dial for inputting time. This is more-or-less what it looks like:

See that big circular dial on the right panel? That’s how you put in time. Turn counter-clockwise and the time goes up, and if I shoot pass the desired time, I just turn clockwise a bit. Once you get a hang of it, it’s really, really fast to set the time.

I’m used to putting in the time via a number pad. To put in one minute I have to press 1-0-0. That’s 3 presses, 2 locations (not to mention the mental load of searching for the correct number to press). The dial is a much simpler and more elegant way of inputting time.

Circular input is common in everyday life: bottle cap, thermostat, radio tuner, steering wheel, or the iPod classic. And it is conspiculously missing on web interfaces – maybe because the input methods (keyboard and mouse) don’t really go well with dials?