Type Cover

If Microsoft’s Touch Cover is the perfect companion for occasional typing, its Type Cover is the professional counterpart. Thickness increases by roughly 2.2mm, enough to be noticeable while still maintaining the svelte profile of Surface, but in exchange for marginally more bulk you get a keyboard with actuating scissor keys.

The keys themselves are a little bigger than in Touch Cover, thus reducing the amount of empty space between each key, but overall the feel is very similar. Where Type Cover really delivers is in its use of scissor keys. If you want more of a notebook feel, this is the way to go.

Typing quickly on Type Cover isn’t fatiguing at all and it’s just as easy to write large documents or emails using it as it would be on a traditional notebook. There are very few tradeoffs that you make to enjoy Type Cover. There’s only one color (black), and of course there is some additional thickness. The keyboard itself isn’t perfect but it’s good enough to write this review on.

I actually wasn’t bothered by the relatively shallow keystroke depth on Type Cover, although I am very used to the relatively shallow feel of most ultraportable keyboards by now. If you’re expecting the same sort of keyboard as you’d find on a thick mainstream notebook, you will be disappointed.

Type Cover’s trackpad is marginally better than what you get with Touch Cover. The trackpad is actually a tiny, top-hinged clickpad, which makes clicking a bit easier. Tap to click and two finger scrolling are both supported. The trackpad surface isn’t particularly smooth, and it isn’t all that large of a surface which work together to make scrolling nice and frustrating. The lower right section of the trackpad serves as a physical right mouse button.

Type Cover sells at a $10 premium to Touch Cover. At $129 it isn’t cheap, but it’s likely the option anyone who is going to do a lot of typing will need to take to get the most out of their Surface RT tablet. 

My only complaint with Type Cover was that it would randomly stop accepting keystrokes in mid sentence, sometimes even in the middle of a word. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, whether I’m hitting performance limitations and the platform  is just dropping keystrokes or if there’s a physical problem with my unit (or Type Cover in general), but it was annoying. Even with the occasional dropped keystrokes I was still able to type faster and better on Type Cover than I could with Touch Cover. If you write for a living, you can live with Touch Cover, but you’d probably rather have Type Cover. Neither is as good as a traditional notebook keyboard, but both are light years ahead of typing on a glass screen.

Thing aka Touch Cover Display: Not Retina, But Still Good
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  • sviola - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Care to source the claim that A6 performs the same as x86 core processors per clock cycle? Reply
  • blandge - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    "A6 is as fast as Intel per clock cycle. (and yes: I understand that A6 is dual core and intel is quad + clocked much higher. But the fact is that A6 is as fast per clock cycle. ARM will replace X86)"

    This simply isn't true. The A6 scored 908ms on the SunSpider browser benchmark and a 2700k scores about 135ms (Lower is better). That's about 6x better, and SunSpirder is a SINGLE CORE benchmark.
    Reply
  • Brainling - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Are you serious with this about the A6? The A6 is NO WHERE NEAR as fast as full on Intel silicon. It's not even in the same ballpark. Maybe if you're comparing it to Atom?

    An Ivy Bridge full silicon CPU is in another league over the A6. Of course, they aren't meant for the same purpose. Even taking the faster clocks in to account (~4x the clock speed), the Ivy Bridge regularly scores 6-7 times the execution scores of an A6 in synthetics. That's not pure clock speed, that's also a flat better CPU.

    I swear...some of this stuff is just mind blowing. What in the world would have ever made you think an A6 was "clock for clock" as fast as Intel's best offerings? Also, the XBox 360 doesn't use an Intel CPU or an x86 CPU...it's a Motorola PowerPC. Might wanna check your facts next time.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    A typo: "Microsoft offers Touch Cover in six colors black, white, magenta, cyan and red." Not sure if a color is missing or you meant five (though five pictured).

    Anand, you've been taking the Surface around judging the examples in the article. Any chance it was with you during the iPad mini event? I can image the looks being worse than when you tried to make a call at the iPhone 5 event.

    "Simply typing quickly in Microsoft Word maxes the single threaded performance of Tegra 3’s ARM Cortex A9 cores." It does seem odd that one of Surface's biggest selling points on the software side is a self inflicted wound. Office should be the premiere application for MS to show case, not bloatware that'd deserve to sit in the sloth exhibit at a zoo. Was Office even usable?
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Apparently we can't count today. It is indeed five colors, not six. Reply
  • ssiu - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Finally, some objective Windows RT versus Windows 8 Atom tablet performance comparison on the net -- thanks anandtech. Definitely no reason for me to consider Windows RT. Reply
  • Zink - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Yep this is silly. The only reason for RT is to let OEM's compete <$500 with Apple and to emulate other walled garden ecosystems.

    Atom should have been launch hardware for a better user experience. Hasn't Apple success shown that UI is #1?
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Basically it seems like Microsoft built a rather competent product, and when we see Windows RT tablets with stronger hardware like Tegra 4 or S4 Pro, it should be a great experience.

    Considering this is Microsoft's first hardware computer, they could have done a LOT worse, and there are some things you only learn by actually shipping a product. For a 1st gen release, that's pretty good.
    Reply
  • shompa - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Thats is one of MSFT problem. Since they control the hardware, we wont see the crazy Android/PC hardware wars. How long time for MSFT to write drivers/support Tegra4 or any other fast SoC?

    Just look at Windows Phone. Nokia have the killer "Pure View" and MSFT don't support it.
    (And thats is why Nokia will die with only MSFT support)
    Reply
  • notanakin - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    "Microsoft’s talents not as a software developer nor as a parts assembler are what make Surface great here, rather its design and manufacturing intuition."

    Er, so what is it that makes Surface great here? Almost sounds like the less talent you have, the greater the product. (In that case, please contact me for insanely great product designs.)
    Reply

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