Two of the key differentiators, and a major component of the Surface experience as Microsoft sees it, are Surface’s Touch and Type keyboard cover accessories. Virtually all of the advertisements and branding you’re likely to see regarding Surface will also feature one, or both, of the keyboard options.
Although they may look similar at first glance, the Touch and Type covers are quite different. The Touch Cover is available in a variety of colors (as shown above), and although it’s a fully functional keyboard, there are no moving parts whatsoever. They keyboard is laid out on a rubbery / felt-like material and features capacitive key switch technology. When pressed, the keys don’t actually move, but there are pressure sensors that can detect the user’s input.
We have to say, the touch cover is a very well-engineered and thought out piece of kit. You’d think the device would be prone to phantom key presses when resting your fingers on the home-row, or be inaccurate or uncomfortable to use, but the Touch cover works very well and is infinitely better than typing on glass in our opinion. It’s not as good as a real keyboard obviously, but you can be productive with it should the need arise. Also note that using the Touch cover frees up screen real estate that would normally be taken up by the on-scree keyboard, which is another plus. The cover is “smart” enough to know when it’s been flipped all the way around to the back of Surface as well, at which point key presses are disabled, and it’s spill resistant too.
The Type cover is a totally different animal. In lieu of capacitive buttons, the Type cover has actual key switches, like a laptop keyboard. If you can’t get used to typing on glass or using the Touch cover, the Type cover is obviously the way to go. It’s not quite as nice as some better laptop keyboards, but the Type cover is still plenty good and we found that we were less prone to typing errors on the Type cover, especially when typing out longer documents. The only downside is the thickness. Whereas the Touch cover is 3mm thick, the Type cover adds another few millimeters, bringing the thickness to about 6mm total.
Pricing for the Touch cover is current set to $119 and the Type cover can be had for $129. Whichever way you go though, consider one of these covers a must-have accessory for Surface. Without one the experience just isn’t complete in our opinion.
Connecting either of the keyboards requires the same procedure. Simply hove the keyboard cover near its dock on the bottom of Surface and an array of magnets will automatically align the cover and secure it in place with a satisfying “click”.