Surface Pro 3: An update to the Type cover, a dramatic improvement in usability

In nearly every advertisement of the Surface line of tablets, there is always a common peripheral shown: keyboard covers. With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft also introduced the Type cover 3 as well. While the updates may seem a bit modest at first, the new version is a rather significant improvement in terms of usability.

The new Type cover is larger than the previous versions, naturally, as the Pro 3 is quite a bit larger than the Pro 2. As we showed previously, even though the keyboard covers are backwards and forwards compatible, they do look a bit silly when paired with the wrong generation of device. Though, we are thankful that Microsoft did keep this interoperability as those of you who have invested in covers for prior generations, could forgo buying the new Type cover for your Pro 3. But as you'll see in this post, even if you have a previous generation cover, it may still be worth splurging for a new Type 3 cover, as the improvements are noteworthy.

For starters, Microsoft has made the top edge of the Type 3 cover a solid magnet. What this allows for is the Type cover to attach itself to the bottom bezel of the Pro 3. By creating this long connection point, in addition to the connection port, it creates a solid pivot point for the keyboard. This translates into better usability in your lap as the keyboard feels like it is 'one' with the Pro 3 and not simply a peripheral attached by a couple magnets. It's a simple, dual-flex, style setup that goes a long way for the Type 3 cover and the Pro 3.

Another benefit of the dual-flex style design is that it creates a small triangle and raises the cover up just enough to make it feel more ergonomic. Also, when you attach the Type cover to the bottom bezel, it also shortens the footprint of the device too, making it easier to use in the cattle car section of an airplane.

Microsoft also made a big point about the trackpad on the Type 3 cover. If you have used any of the prior keyboard covers, you will know that the trackpad was mostly  for looks and offered little usability. Thankfully, the Type 3 trackpad is now larger and covered in glass beads. The clicking mechanism has been reworked as well and offers a much more solid "click" sound and feel than the previous generation. In short, it feels like a real trackpad and is actually useable. 

The keys on the device still feel mostly the same as the previous generation and offer minimal travel distance before actuating. We would by no means call this a best-in-class keyboard, but it's quite easy to type on, and we had no problem pounding out emails (or writing this post). It does take a bit of time to get accustomed to the travel distance of the keys but once you do, it feels right at home.

Like the last iteration of the Type cover, the oils from your fingers quickly stain the keyboard. Even with diligent cleaning, the 'glossy reflections' of the finish from the oil on your hands appears to happen quite quickly, which is exactly what happened with our previous Type covers. Not a huge deal, but if you like to keep your electronics in like-new condition, be prepared to use a microfiber cloth on the keys after every use.

Generally speaking, the Type cover 3 is a big improvement over the prior generations and is another small piece of the Surface puzzle that helps build out the suite of hardware and peripherals that make the Surface unique.

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