Microsoft Surface 2 Windows RT 8.1 Tablet Review

Microsoft Surface Accessories

We need to give Microsoft some serious props on its burgeoning lineup of accessories. There are several new items available now and coming soon that look top-notch (although a couple are only for the Surface 2 Pro) including the Touch Cover 2, Type Cover 2, Power Cover, Docking Station, Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers, Car Charger with USB, and the Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition. These are in addition to a variety of handy styli, screen protectors, cases, and more.

Additionally, Microsoft is experimenting with the idea of so-called “blades”, or special peripherals that extend the usefulness of a Surface tablet in specific and powerful ways, such as the Surface Remix Touch Cover.

In other words, Microsoft is killing it with the accessories.

For this review, Microsoft included a Type Cover 2 for us, which seems to have taken the best from both of the original Touch and Type Covers. The first-gen Touch Cover had a rubbery felt-like material that was quite pleasing to the touch, but it didn’t have any moving parts, whereas the Type Cover was much better for typing with its physical keys. The Type Cover 2 now has that same soft, pretty felt-like finish, and it actually covers the touchpad portion of the keyboard.

I was a bit apprehensive about the touchpad, between the fabric-like covering, the overall thinness of the Type Cover 2, and plenty of poor experiences with touchpads on mobile devices, but I was pleasantly surprised at both how comfortable the fabric-like material felt under my fingertips and also how responsive the input was. It also resists fingerprints and smudges as well as anything I’ve seen.

You can scroll the cursor around, of course, but you can also tap to click, and the two-finger scrolling both up and down or left to right is incredibly smooth. The two-finger zoom in/zoom out is just as good.

For such a thin typing surface, the key travel is certainly satisfactory, with good responsiveness and large keys that are comfortable to use. The keys are all backlit, so you can type easily even in the dark, and the layout is simple and uncluttered. Microsoft gave the Function keys double duty for things like media playback controls, brightness adjustment controls, quick keys to settings and search as well as page up/down and End (and more), but that’s as complex as they got with it.

Although the Type Cover 2 is stiff, it’s also a bit flexible, but not so much so that you can't use the device in your lap on a plane or in bed. The thing snaps magnetically into place well, too; if you hover the tablet anywhere near the Type Cover 2, it will nearly jump up into place, and once it’s locked in, it won’t ever fall out accidentally.

One other advantage of the Type Cover that we stumbled across is that because the pivot point on the hinge is so flexible, you have more orientations for the keyboard. For example, if you need to lay the whole thing, screen and keyboard, flat on your lap, you easily can.

Microsoft sells this excellent accessory for $129.99. That’s a lot of scratch for a keyboard, but it’s worth it if you plan to use the Surface 2 for any sort of typing beyond sending an occasional email.

In fact, in any head-to-head comparisons of tablets, Microsoft can lean on its strong accessories. This Type Cover 2 looks great, is easy to use, and it’s incredibly thin. It’s hard to overstate how important a great keyboard accessory is to a tablet like this one that wants to be taken seriously as both a consumption device and a productivity device.

Other than the Type Cover, all that Microsoft sent along was the power supply, which has a small brick design that’s a bit larger than the average phone charger and has a cord that’s about five feet long for those times you need to charge up at your desk or the coffee shop.

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