For the past few years, touring the exhibit hall at an Apple event — or even certain halls at CES — has been a bit like walking around a shoe store. Everywhere you look are cute, colourful and fashionable offerings you can't actually use unless you wear high heels — or, in this case, have a Mac or iOS device.
The popularity of Samsung phones has made many case makers break out of the iPhone enclave and one of the pointers that Nokia was generating confidence in the market was Chinese case makers adding Lumia-specific cases to their line-up at CES. Of course, there is quite literally a plethora of iPad cases; you even get a fleece iPad-sized slipcase as the amenity kit in Virgin's Upper Class.
But Windows tablets have always been left out of the party, like Cinderella with no fairy godmother.
The Surface Pro has the kickstand and the Touch and Type Covers protect the screen, but you might still want a case for travelling — especially if you want to take an adapter with you, or you're worried about the lovely Surface Pro pen getting knocked off the magnet that holds it into the power port.
The answer for us is the Incipio Surface Sleeve, which Simon has been keeping his Surface Pro in since February. It's made of tough ballistic nylon, and comes in a range of colours that match the various TouchCovers (ours is black and cyan).
There's a soft fleecy lining that helps keep the Surface shiny — and room enough for a Surface Pro with a pen clipped into its power socket, and a Type Cover. There's also an external zip pocket, which we've been using for USB accessories — including Microsoft's official Surface Ethernet adapter and a Fitbit wireless USB connection. The combination is light, easy to slip in and out of a bag (and your tablet doesn't need to come out when going through airport security).
You do need to carry the power supply separately, but it's light enough, and compact enough, for that not to be a hardship — and the power supply's built-in USB charging socket means that there's one less power supply for you to carry, as it'll charge a phone at the same time as your tablet.
But if you're looking for something a bit more upmarket, I like Maroo's oddly-named but luxurious Pango[hi] 11-inch black leather sleeve. It's designed for an 11-inch MacBook Air, but like nearly all the Air sleeves, it fits the Surface perfectly. It's also the kind of stylish design and soft leather that we PC users have been envying Mac users for.
Even a Surface Pro with a Type Cover — the thickest combination — slips in the main section (which is lined with an eye-catching lime green plush fabric that cleans a tablet screen nicely as you slip it in and out).
The hidden magnet holds the lid closed surprisingly securely, and you can just see a hint of the green around the edges. The leather has held up well to many weeks on the road without any sign of wear and I like that it doesn't add as much bulk to the tablet as other cases.
The Surface Pro pen clips handily into one of the back two pouches, where you can also fit business cards, an Ethernet or VGA adapter and other small items. It doesn't have room for the power adapter, but I don't carry that every day.
The Pango[hi] is also the right size for the ATIV Pro without the keyboard; with the keyboard attached it's just too snug a fit, but when I have the keyboard on I don't feel need a case as well.
There are other official Surface slipcases, or you can use almost any case designed for an 11-inch Air.
Or you could get crafty; when I found the Virgin Atlantic amenity kit fleece tablet case from the Upper Class cabin used a similar grey fleece to the Touch Cover keyboard, I used a remnant of upholstery fabric and one of the smaller Premium Economy amenity kits to extend the bottom of the case, turning it from iPad-size to one that fitted a Surface. I made it a little larger than the Surface RT needed and it also fits my Surface Pro.
Beyond the usefulness of tablets, some of the appeal is sleek design and the option to glam it up a bit. And PC tablet users aren't left out any more.