Hands on with the new Surface covers and docking station

While the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 are big improvements over the first generation of Microsoft's tablets, the truth is that we think they were upstaged by the new accessories that the company is coming out for their new products; we got some hands-on time with them at Microsoft's press event today.

The new add-on that stood out the most is the Touch Cover 2, which Microsoft says has over 1,000 sensors on it this time, compared to just 80 for the original Type Cover. Microsoft had an exploded view of the new Touch Cover 2 which showed off all of the sensors inside.

The extra sensors can be used to activate three additional touch gestures on the Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2. Using two fingers anywhere on the keyboard moves the text insertion cursor left or right. Moving two fingers on the numbers selects text with the cursor. Finally, when typing a word, you can touch the space bar to select auto complete suggestions; it's a very cool addition.

The Touch Cover 2 will also come in a variety of colors but it won't be released until sometime in 2014.

The Type Cover 2 was also shown off at the event. It's supposed to be thinner than the original and have better typing support but this would seem to be more of an incremental improvement compared to the Touch Cover 2. Both of them will also be backlit.

There was just one example of the Power Cover at the event today and it's definitely the thickest of the covers we saw. If you want your Surface Pro 2 to be as light as possible you will not want this product. If you want to add a lot more battery life to the tablet, you will definitely want to get this.

Microsoft also showed off its special Mix Cover, designed for DJs. It's definitely a product for a highly limited audience and we asked Microsoft up front why they didn't have a cover designed to be a controller for games. We didn't get a clear answer to that but Microsoft reps told us they are always taking input from customers on what they could do next.

The new docking station for the Surface Pro 2 is pretty slick and compact. As you can see, there are plenty of ports to extend the Surface Pro 2 for use in other devices. We saw one of them at the event when the docking station was connected to a big Dell monitor.

We do wish the docking station had an extra battery of its own but it's only supposed to be used with a power cord. Oh well.

Microsoft is launching a new Arc Touch Mouse Surface edition, which uses Bluetooth and does not require a USB dongle. The mouse has a flexible palm rest like other members of the Arc Touch family and looks and feels very comfortable.

Microsoft will also release a wireless adapter for its Surface covers that will allow them to be used without being attached to the tablets themselves. It will also have a car charger made especially for the tablets but that's not due out until early 2014.

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we asked Microsoft up front why they didn't have a cover designed to be a controller for games. We didn't get a clear answer to that but Microsoft reps told us they are always taking input from customers on what they could do next.

The reps then turned to each other in a huddle and started muttering incoherently and angrily at each other. This was followed by several finger points and a few face palms. They then turned back around and thanked us for the great input and to stay tuned. Two of them grabbed an XBOX One controller from a display and a few power covers and ran behind a curtain. We couldnt stay but there was a lot of loud banging noises and someone yelling for duct tape.

All the focus on keyboards seems wrong, this thing is a tablet right? No, actually it a laptop with a removable keyboard right? Who knows? I still think the focus on keyboards and keyboard accessories is wrong because the future is touch. I use my iPad all day every day and I have never wished for a keyboard. Obviously Surface and iPad are different products focused on different people but people have been shown to love the iPad and the iPad is a post PC device, Surface is not post PC and I think this is a mistake for MS.

There are no excuses for Surface now, Surface 2 has mostly everything everyone wanted, now you need to go out and buy one.

That's EXACTLY the point. It's BOTH. It can be used for playing games and watching videos just like toy tablets but also has a kickstand to hold itself up so you don't have to constantly hold the damn thing. It ALSO has a keyboard so it can replace a laptop when you need to actually be productive.

Actually I think the new two position kickstand is the standout hardware feature and will seal the deal for most people.

jakem1 said,
The sides slide out, you put the Surface down and then the sides slide back in.

Indeed, I was expecting it to connect at the bottom, however when he said you could keep the cover attached, I knew that couldn't happen

A nice solution, and seems to "click in" really nicely.

I really like the new "Power Cover" - the best thing about it that I'm able to see so far.... It's not even that much thicker then the regular Type Cover!

Yeah I'm shocked (and glad) at how thin it is! I was expecting a bulky thing. And the fact it brings 250% more battery life is insane!!! I'm definitely jumping on that.

CygnusOrion said,
250% would mean 17.5 hours battery life!

I think it was 2.5 times to original surface pro. About 12 hours. Nevertheless, even 12 hours is better than any laptop or tablet on the planet considering power it has.

Why does the docking station only have a single video output? It should have at least two. Now I'd have to use the docking station AND a port replicator... Lame.

Most laptops and tablets only have one... most users only need one.... if you need more than one you could make that with an adapter.

Indeed, however, I believe that requires DisplayPort 1.2 and I've yet to see any confirmation that the new Surface Pro's Mini DP port meets that specification. My understanding is that the original Surface Pro was only DP 1.1 and so was unable to support daisy-chaining compatible monitors.

spc1972 said,
Indeed, however, I believe that requires DisplayPort 1.2 and I've yet to see any confirmation that the new Surface Pro's Mini DP port meets that specification. My understanding is that the original Surface Pro was only DP 1.1 and so was unable to support daisy-chaining compatible monitors.

Good news for you then, it was answered during today's Reddit AMA.

Main thread:

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/c...corporate_vp_of_surface_at/

The DisplayPort 1.2 reference:

http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/c...te_vp_of_surface_at/ccdyaiq

Fezmid said,
Why does the docking station only have a single video output? It should have at least two. Now I'd have to use the docking station AND a port replicator... Lame.

I agree. I currently have a Nokia WP8 phone, a MacBook Air laptop (Windows 8) and a massive HP desktop with 2 X 23" monitors. The Mac goes in the dustbin as soon as I have a mobile workstation/tablet. Surface Pro 2 is perfect for that. But when I need to get some real work done, I sit at my desk and really use the screen real estate. But to drive these monitors needs at least 1GB video RAM. How much does Surface Pro 2 have?

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
The big question is, how much will these accessories cost? In my opinion, the touch cover should be free with the Surface, especially how much you are paying!
Show me a tablet for $449 that comes with a physical keyboard

In this economy, who is going to be motivated to spend even more money on a keyboard/cover after spending $500? Including the Surface cover would also give a big selling point over the Ipad or Android tablets!

it's keyboard and cover into one. The keyboard is optional, you can buy Logitech $30 at Amazon with USB receiver.

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
In this economy, who is going to be motivated to spend even more money on a keyboard/cover after spending $500? Including the Surface cover would also give a big selling point over the Ipad or Android tablets!

Yeah this docking station is really slick!!! Not sure why John wants a battery in it? ... it's not like you'd be carrying this around with you lol.

We do wish the docking station had an extra battery of its own but it's only supposed to be used with a power cord. Oh well.

Speak for yourself John. "We" wish nothing of the sort. "We" realise that docking stations are designed to be permanently on a desk, and as such would be plugged into a power outlet. Unless you're expecting lots of power cuts of course.

Dock looks great, but sadly they are reporting the Price at $200 same as the power keyboard.

For $99 I would by 3, for $200 I am buying Zero.

MikadoWu said,
Dock looks great, but sadly they are reporting the Price at $200 same as the power keyboard.

For $99 I would by 3, for $200 I am buying Zero.


If you buy 3 for 99$. Its almost 300$ and why would you want 3. I get your point though is a alittle bit pricy. However if you think about average ultrabook at this range are around 1200$ it worth it

Difference between Need and Wants. I want one on my Desk, do not need it. My Daughter Needs one in her Dorm. Dad, Wants to replace his computer.

For $300, I will not feel guilty. For $600, well, Tuition is expensive. If I get one for the Kid, then Kid or Mom will whine why they do not have one. AT that point suck it up and by me one too.

On the business Note, I do get that $200 is fair, compared to other Docking Stations. In this case though, they have not successful impeded the Fruit brigade.

If you are selling it as a Desktop/laptop replacement, you need to make it close to the same Price. We can get an i7 Desktop/Flat Screen for under $800 and a cheap laptop for $500, total $1300.

So the convenience of a single device Should be close.