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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  • enealDC - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Any takers?? Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Early adopter = heartburn. Reply
  • daar - Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - link

    Been using an Thinkpad X41 tablet for ages at work, will probably pick this up to replace it. I mean, this thing does have pen input yes? I didn't see much mention of it in the review. Missing a few benchmarks as well, which is kind of a shame as the Surface is the one of the most interesting computing device put out in the last while.

    Also would like to ask who makes the actual panel? I recall AT used to note this in reviews in the past but not as of late, I don't think I even saw mention of it in the iphone 5 review.
    Reply
  • gardocki - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    No pen input on the Surface RT, just on the Surface for Win 8 Pro, which will likely be about twice the cost and won't be released for another 90 days Reply
  • gcoupe - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    I don't think this is correct. If you look at the "Help me choose" document published by Microsoft, then they state that "Capacitive pens available for purchase".

    True, these aren't active pens, with pressure sensitivity, but as far as I'm aware, WinRT will have handwriting recognition.

    It would be good to get some confirmation of this though, and a measure of whether it is as good as the handwriting recognition in Windows 8.
    Reply
  • This Guy - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    All capacitive touch screens work with capacitive pens. In my experience capacitive pens write like crayons.

    Running an older tablet with a worse input array I have perceived capacitive hand writting recognition on win 8 as being quicker and more accurate compared to win 7. That said, I still find it painfully slow compared to the on-screen keyboard.

    So yes, Surface RT supports capacitive pens, but the experience of capacitive pens is generally so poor on other devices most people don't consider them as pen inputs.
    Reply
  • nagi603 - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Capacitive pen compared to an active pen is like comparing a baby tricycle and a jet airplane. Not even in the same league. But unless you have tried something remotely like the latter, you won't even know that.

    Trust me as someone who has actually tried both and has been using a wacom pen for years: throw that capacitive pen out the window!
    Reply
  • SleepyFE - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Most interesting computing device?????

    It's just a small laptop with all it's guts stuck in a poorly cooled space behind the screen.
    Reply
  • owned66 - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    ummm .... ?
    this is windows RT
    its using an ARM cpu
    Reply
  • SleepyFE - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    I know it runs on ARM, does that not make it a laptop, is a server using ARM not a server?
    No matter how u spin it, it either a tablet (of which there are many and 99.9% use ARM) or it's a laptop with less power and less headroom (regarding cooling).
    Thankfully a week laptop is at least sort of useful, but paying 100$ extra to get the keyboard? No thanks!!
    Reply

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