30 Days with Surface Pro 3: Day 12
There is one Surface Pro 3 accessory that is indispensable in my opinion: the Type keyboard cover. As far as I’m concerned, the Type cover should be bundled with the Surface Pro 3 by default instead of sold as an optional accessory. For Day 12 of the 30 Days with Surface Pro 3 series, let’s take a closer look at why you want this “accessory” for your Surface Pro 3.
The Type keyboard cover fills two important roles with the Surface Pro 3. It’s a physical keyboard that lets you use the tablet as a hybrid laptop, and it protects the Surface Pro 3 display when not in use.
Microsoft offered both Touch and Type keyboard options with the original Surface Pro. The Touch cover used touch sensitive keys as opposed to the physical, tactile response of the Type cover. During the 30 Days with Surface Pro series I noted that I liked both, but preferred the Type cover:
As nice as the Touch cover is, I prefer the tactile response of the Type cover. It’s a tad thicker and heavier than the Touch cover, but the keys on the keyboard are more like the keys on a standard physical keyboard. They actually move when you type.
Apparently other customers and Microsoft agreed because with the Surface Pro 3 there is no Touch keyboard option available. The Surface Pro Type cover is a significant improvement over the Type cover for the Surface Pro 2, though, and offers a number of improvements over the original Type cover.
I like typing on the Type cover keyboard. When open the top edge of the keyboard flips down and connects magnetically to the bottom edge of the Surface Pro 3 to prop the keyboard at a slight angle. The keys are backlit which is helpful in dark or low-light scenarios. Typing is fast and smooth, and the tactile response of pushing the keys down and hearing the familiar click-clack make the experience similar to using a traditional Windows laptop.
As with previous Type keyboard models, the top row includes special keys unique to the Surface Pro 3 and Windows experience. There are buttons to make the display dimmer or brighter, buttons to mute the volume, or play / pause music. There are also buttons to access the Search, Share, Devices and Settings features.
The touchpad is the one thing I was most grateful for with the newest Type cover. The touchpad on the Type cover with the Surface Pro 2 was virtually unusable. It was fine for pointing and tapping, but the left and right mouse “buttons” at the bottom were virtually impossible to use effectively. The touchpad on the Surface Pro 3 Type cover doesn’t have separate physical buttons, but you can click the bottom left or bottom right of the touchpad. Most importantly, you can click the left or right mouse “buttons” without wanting to throw the keyboard out a window.
The Surface Pro keyboard covers have gotten mixed reviews when it comes to typing on a lap. They’re fine on a surface like a table or desk, but there have been complaints that the keyboard cover is too flimsy to work effectively on a lap. It’s still not quite as solid as using a traditional laptop, but I feel like this Type cover is firmer, and provides a better typing experience than its predecessors.
As I said in the beginning, this accessory should be included by default in my opinion. Microsoft is marketing the Surface Pro 3 as the tablet that can replace your laptop. I agree with that tagline, but it’s only really true if you have the Type keyboard cover that enables you to use the tablet as a laptop.
Hopefully Microsoft will eventually just bundle the two together by default. In the meantime, I absolutely recommend that you spend the extra money to buy a Type keyboard cover to go with your Surface Pro 3.