Microsoft Surface: Touch vs Type Cover
We take a closer look at the Microsoft Surface's clip-on Touch and Type keyboard covers
There are two types of keyboard for the Microsoft Surface. The Touch Cover is a halfway house between a software keyboard and the rubber-keyed wonder of the 48K Spectrum (ask your dad, kids). There’s no tactile feedback when you touch the keys – instead you’re forced to keep your eyes glued to the screen, or turn up the volume and listen for the clicky key sound as you type.
Our first instinct was that typing on the Touch Cover would be a terrible experience, but we were pleasantly surprised to be wrong. While we didn’t quite get up to full lick, we found our regular typing speed wasn’t massively hampered, and even the small trackpad surface beneath the space bar proved responsive and accurate.
The Type Cover is the favourite of the two, though. This has proper, well-spaced keys that deliver a decent amount of travel. Within minutes we were back up to full laptop typing speed, and creating plenty of noise – the keyboard is a touch rattly. It also has a set of dedicated function keys (F1, F2 and so on). These are only accessible on the Touch Cover as a secondary option behind the top row of Windows 8-specific control buttons (volume controls, Charm shortcuts and so on). The trackpad is functional and responsive, but as with the Touch Cover’s trackpad, there’s no support for gestures, which is disappointing.
The Type Cover is a bigger let-down when you attempt to use the Surface on your lap. They keyboard base is too flexible, often causing the keys on the edges of the Type Cover to stop responding. We found the Touch Cover more reliable with the Surface sat on your lap, which is worth considering if you spend much of your time tapping away in airport lounges or crowded commuter trains.
The price of both keyboards is a little steep for our liking. The Touch Cover is a £79 add-on for the 32GB Surface, while the Touch Cover is £99. The 64GB model comes with a Touch Cover, with the Type Cover again adding £99 to the price. Why Microsoft is forcing 64GB owners to pay the full amount for the Touch Cover instead of a small premium is baffling. A total price of £669 for the 64GB Surface RT and Touch Cover – our preferred specification – is far too high.