Surface with Type Cover: A real laptop

Surface with Type Cover: A real laptop

Summary: Microsoft was wise to make two different keyboard/covers for the Surface. The Touch Cover is eye-catching but the Type Cover is a real keyboard worthy of the Surface.

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Type Cover laptop mode

The Microsoft Touch Cover is an innovative peripheral for the Surface tablet. The keyless design of the Touch Cover works better than I expected and is very thin and light yielding a highly mobile package. It's not quite as good as real keyboards for fast typists which is where the Type Cover steps in.

Side view 300

My Type Cover arrived a week ago and I have been using it instead of the Touch Cover since unpacking it. The Type Cover is a good keyboard in spite of its thin form. In fact I haven't missed the Touch Cover since attaching the Type Cover to my Surface. I don't plan on ever using the Touch Cover again.

Due to a nice bit of engineering the Type Cover is only slightly heavier and thicker than the Touch Cover. The keyboard is plastic yet strangely light, which makes it a better fit with the Surface for me.

It attaches to the Surface using the nice magnetic connector just like the touch model, and it has real keys with good feedback. The keys are nice and big for such a small keyboard and handles fast touch typing with ease.

Keys
Flat, gently sculpted keys

The small trackpad on the Type Cover works very well although I wish it was bigger. There's no room to make it bigger and keep the size of the cover properly fitting the Surface so it's still a good compromise.

The Type Cover is so good it turns the Surface RT into a real laptop for me. I tend to use the Surface as a laptop more than as a tablet so the real keyboard is a good addition. Using the Surface and this keyboard is almost as good as using a real laptop which is no small feat.

The Type Cover is slightly more expensive ($130 vs. $120) than the Touch Cover but it's well worth the additional expense. Having used both keyboards for a while I would not recommend the Touch Cover for anyone. The Type Cover is the way to go and offers far more utility for the extra ten bucks.

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Topic: Microsoft Surface

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54 comments
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  • you would have to try before you buy

    some want the feel of a "real" keyboard while others just deal with what they have.
    Maarek
    • True with anything.

      even full fledged PC's come with various degrees of usable keyboards. Dell's slim little keyboards don't have any soldind feel to them, which I hate. I Prefere there slightly older and thicker keyboards, with typical keys.
      William Farrel
  • Who are you...

    Wow, this article is almost gushing about a MS product.

    Who are you and what have you done with James? :-)
    moth25
    • re "who are you?"

      I know, weird isn't it? I've read it twice, but still feel as though I must have missed something.
      Saxwulf
    • +1

      n/t
      Ram U
    • LMAO

      Indeed...I like the new James. Can he stick around for awhile?
      Rob.sharp
    • St Paul on the road to Damascus

      The cognitive dissonance between a belief that MS is bad and how good the Surface really is has caused James to undergo conversion.

      I have one Surface with a Touch cover and one with the Type cover and I've written articles using both. I prefer the Type cover, but even the Touch cover gets the job done.

      In the end the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Now if we could only get SJVN and to a lesser extent, Adrian, to push though their prejudices ;-)
      Tony_McS
      • "get SJVN and to a lesser extent, Adrian, to push though their prejudices"

        Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! What an extraordinary statement from someone who has no time for anything except MS, won't hear a bad word about MS and won't say a good word about any other OS or product. Absolutely extraordinary!
        Wakemewhentrollsgone
        • Was thinking the same thing

          non-biased
  • Glad that James finally accepting the fact Surface is great...

    People change and this article is a great example... few weeks back James wrote that he couldn't recommend Surface with 5 silly reasons...
    Owlll1net
    • Well, not to start a war but James only commented on keyboards today

      and the observation that the Surface has become, in his opinion, a functional laptop design with the addition of the Type cover.

      Since I have not experienced any Surface "hands on" time, I will refrain from offering an opinion except to state that, from what I have seen on videos, the Surface RT tablet uses state of the art manufacturing techniques which have resulted in a superior hardware design.

      As for videos that I have seen of the Surface RT in action .. well .. they are just videos and not hands on experience. There are some indications of "slowness" in action akin to what I have experienced from my first generation iPad. Still, having said that, my first generation iPad is still quite functional although my current tablet of choice is my iPad 3 - naturally.
      kenosha77a
      • Kenosha, once you try that, I would love to see your reaction

        I feel you don't regret that you tried it. My feeling is you would like it. I see you as non-fanboy.
        Ram U
        • Thank you, Rama. Not to hi-jack James's blog but a few comments

          spring to mind.

          James is a confessed "platform agnostic". By that, he means that he has no philosophical issues against using a particular hardware/software/ecosystem combination to accomplish a specific task.

          However, I don't have James's "unlimited" budget so I must vote with my dollars as to which platform ecosystem will suite me the best.

          That being said, I must confess that age and luck have conspired to make me a child of the home PC era. One might say I got in at the ground floor and have used quite a few platforms in my time. (Still, I must admit to only one "fondness" and pride of ownership towards just one special platform - that being the Commodore Amiga hardware and it's software - but those are stories for another day. Grin)

          Currently, and for the past six years, I have chosen the OS X and iOS ecosystem to fulfill my needs. And, it goes beyond that pragmatic approach naturally. I thoroughly enjoy using that hardware and software combination.

          That being said, my plans for a Surface Pro tablet (with the Type keyboard - thanks James for helping to make my mind up on that point) are still in effect for the new year. That statement should say a lot!

          Personally, I foresee my mobile needs for 2013 being satisfied with the use of an iPhone 5, iPad 3 (or 5 - we will see. Grin), a completely refurbished MacBook (now with a 480 GB SSD) and a new Surface Pro coupled with a Seagate GoFlex Satellite external HD. BTW, only the Surface Pro is yet to be purchased - we will still see about the iPad 5 version but I could enthusiastically live with the iPad 3 for a few more years.

          Finally, I believe in synergy so I anticipate that with the addition of some readily available software, I can use my iPad as a secondary monitor to my Surface Pro for some situations. Having both ecosystems available will definitely be a plus and I will never limit myself to a philosophy that excludes other platforms just because of a fanboy association.
          kenosha77a
          • Not quite sure why you are buying a Surface Pro

            What is going in your bag? If it is a MacBook and an iPad, what will the Surface Pro add to what you already have? Or are you thinking the Surface Pro will replace the MacBook in your bag? I find that a bit hard to believe, I know you are a huge fan of OS X and are fully locked into the Apple ecosystem. It doesn't make sense that it will replace your iPad since the Surface RT is a far better iPad replacement (I know this for a fact, my iPad hasn't been used since I got my Surface RT).

            I must admit, I'm a bit confused at your decision to buy a Surface Pro. How do you see this new device fitting into your device landscape?
            toddbottom3
          • Hardware compatibility and curiosity motivate my choice.

            I understand your reasons for choosing the RT over the Pro model, Todd They make great sense and I don't argue with any of your posted Surface RT opinions - except when you make comparisons to the Apple products. VERY BIG GRIN.

            Personally, like Maverick and Goose, I have always felt the need, the need for speed. The Surface RT ARM would run Office just a bit too slow for my needs. (I use a very large Excel spreadsheet with heavy use of macros on occasion.) I wish to run the "real" Office on an intel Hardware chipset and the Surface Pro would meet my mobile hardware needs. (Having said that, the MacBook is intel based, as you know, and Office for Mac runs very well on that platform. However, macros operate and are coded differently for those separate platforms. Plus, my MacBook with protective case is 5 lbs. The Surface Pro is 2 lbs. Enough said.)

            And, as I've stated before, Surface Pro runs legacy Win Apps and certain apps that I would need to enable my iPad screen to act as a mobile second monitor are only written for the full Windows 8 OS rather than Win 8/RT.

            I don't wish to go into a "dual boot" scenario although that is and always will remain an option for Win 7 (not too sure about Win 8 yet.)

            I confess to curiosity.

            Curiosity about the modern UI apps - I like the longitudinal form factor of them.
            Curiosity about a non crippled OneNote application with pen support. (I have the iOS OneNote application. It is crippled in my opinion.)

            When it comes to battery life, well, more is best. More is GREAT. However, for laptops, my mobile goals have always been met by my 3.5 to 4.0 hr MacBook battery. The Surface Pro will meet those battery life goals as well. Needless to say, I could always wait for the newer generation of intel Haswell chipsets to make their way into Surface tablets but - what the heck - no need to Osborne the first generation Pro model. Besides, I'm thinking the 2013 Surface Pro will make an excellent Christmas 2013 gift for my young teenage niece next year. But her Uncle wishes to play with it for a few months first. GRIN.

            My MacBook (with it's new OWC 480 GB blazing fast SSD) has my "heavy duty" mobile OS X apps installed. (AutoCad for Mac, Adobe CS6 suite, ex cetera) so if I ever need to lug my beloved suitcase around with me in the future, I can do that.

            I like the serial port options of the Surface Pro. Now, granted, I confess to a lust for the new MBP retina models. But the Pro is a good 1000 dollars cheaper (for the models I would wish for) Remember, I don't have James's unlimited budget.

            And finally, it's all about weight. Remember, my MacBook is 5 pounds with case. The Surface Pro, iPad 3, iPhone 5 and Seagate HD (needed because it supplies iOS storage and a local WiFi signal for wireless connectivity) will weigh significantly less together than the MacBook alone. And, I will have that dual monitor mobile setup. (Just a geek bragging right. Grin) Plus the synergy of have two great ecosystems near at hand.

            One final comment on tablet design. James is right (and so are you). The Surface tablets are more laptop than tablets. (That's not to say they are not tablets. They are. But I view them as exceptional and capable lightweight laptops first. Perhaps because of the OS installed in them)

            I see the future of tablets as being weight driven. That is to say, if the iPad Mini had had a retina class display and kept the same form factor and weight but "only" gave me 7 hours of battery life, I would view that tablet as being a superior design (for a tablet) than the current iPad 4 and I would have bought it in a NY minute. Just my thoughts.
            kenosha77a
          • Got it

            So your daily bag will have your HD, iPad, and Surface Pro. You'll take your MBP only if you know you'll need it?

            One more question, I'm certainly not trying to challenge your decision, buy why not MBA? It is right around the same price. If you are only going to be using the Pro as a laptop, the MBA is only slightly heavier and while it can't be used as a tablet, that doesn't seem to be what you want the Pro for.

            Or at this point, is it more about curiosity and OneNote?

            "I have the iOS OneNote application. It is crippled in my opinion."

            I totally agree with you. I think this is what people are missing when they hear "MS is bringing Office to iOS". They seem to have this vision that it will full Office rewritten from scratch with an amazing touch UI. I pretty much guarantee it won't be. It will be crippled like OneNote is. It will offer 100% compatibility but you won't be able to do a whole lot with that compatibility. That is what my crystal ball is saying.
            toddbottom3
          • You raise interesting and tough questions, my friend.

            Why not the retina based MacBook Pro models instead of the Surface Pro?

            IMO, either the 13" or 15" MBP retina models are superior laptops vs the Surface Pro used as a laptop. (All three models discussed would be basically optioned to the max) My personal philosophy is to purchase the best and then use it over an extended period of time.

            And I have had hands on experience with the Apple computers. (Personally, I would choose the 15" over the 13" for a number of reasons.)

            But it's all about the software and the OS X software (or Win 8 software in a VM) on those newer machines would not run appreciably quicker than on my 2009 MacBook upgraded recently to that SSD drive.

            I would definitely enjoy the retina display experience. (I know you don't put much stock in that feature but I do. Personal choice) Still, the Surface Pro's 1080P Clear Type display is near enough for my tastes.

            However, something tells me to wait a few years for a super high end laptop replacement. I can't quite put my finger on it. So I'll leave it go at that.
            kenosha77a
          • That's exactly what the Surface Pro does, replace the laptop and tablet. You wouldn't pack a surface pro, laptop and tablet! That's just silly.

            Of course if you're so trapped within the apple ecosystem, then you'll keep lugging your mfa and tablet around while I'll just have my Surface Pro. Of course, I'll have to keep plugging the darn thing in. But there's no way around that issue with today's technology if you want to have such a capable laptop in tablet factor form.
            joeactuary
          • You are correct. Normally I wouldn't pack all three

            But I believe in options. However, in my experience, neither is just one device a universal mobile solution.

            As I've posted this online previously, my iPhone and iPad are sufficient for almost all of my trip needs. I believe the Surface Pro (with the right software) will provide the means to fill in some blind spots and expand my horizons.
            kenosha77a
          • yes, I totally agree

            I also don't have unlimited budget that's why I am still using iPad 2, and Sony Tablet S in addition to Surface RT and ExoPC. I would like to get Galaxy Tab Note, but budget wont get approved. :-). I have a MBA (11"), which I bought on eBay retiring my 6 years old MB a month back. This is just 6 months old. I am planning to get rid of Sony Tablet S and ExoPC and get either Sasmung ATIV Smart PC or Surface Pro.

            Since you also a platform agnostic, I wanted you opinion on Surface RT.

            PS - I also still crave for my Amiga, which I left in India before moving to US. :-).
            Ram U