Let me start off this review of Microsoft’s tiny Type Keyboard for Windows Surface RT and Surface Pro with a confession – I am a touch typist. I learned to type not by tapping out text messages on my phone, but sitting at an IBM Selectric Typewriter (Google it, kids) under the watchful eye of my typing teacher Mrs. Knight. I’m a writer by profession and a pretty fast typist. When I decided to purchase a Surface Pro tablet, I knew I’d want the optional keyboard. You don’t need one, since you can pull up a virtual keyboard on the touchscreen and type away, but I don’t enjoy typing on touch screens.
The snap-on keyboard for a Surface or Surface Pro tablet also functions as the cover, they are that thin and light. You have two options for a keyboard:
The ultra-thin touch cover which comes in a variety of colors and weight about as much as a piece of heavy cardboard. It costs $119. The surface is pretty smooth and I couldn’t really tell where the keys were by touch alone (first rule of touch typing – don’t look at the keyboard). Back in the 1980s I went on a tour of IBM with my typing class and the guy conducting the tour told us that they had the technology to do keyboards that operated by touch alone with no mechanical elements. This was pretty crazy futuristic stuff to kids who were still using typewriters. But he also told us that people just didn’t like them. They wanted that click and not having the feel of keys and the sounds they make slowed people down at the keyboard. He said IBM was waiting for people to be ready . All these years later, I’m still not ready for the touch keyboard, even if it does come in pretty colors.
I went with the $129 Type option, which is also thin and light, but only available in black. It attaches to the Surface tablet magnetically. I had my doubts about that, but the connection is completely secure, despite flipping the keyboard back and forth several times a day, since it functions as the cover when not in use as a keyboard.
It’s a small keyboard. Smaller than a sheet of typing paper and only about 3mm thick and weighs about 7 ounces. It comes with a built-in track-pad. I was worried that my hands would have trouble adjusting to the tight space, but I needn’t have been. Surprisingly, this little light-weight keyboard is probably my favorite keyboard for typing ever. And I’ve typed on a lot of keyboards that promised they were ergonomically designed for faster and more comfortable typing. But I just love the feel of this little gem. When my fingers fly, I get just the right amount of response and sound to let me know I’ve hit the keys without being noisy.
The keyboard never feels crowded, but I will admit that I do have small hands. If you have sturdier fingers, I’d suggest trying one out before buying. I found the track-pad to be responsive and easy to use. Even though the tablet has a touchscreen, I find myself using the device most often in a traditional computer fashion with the keyboard. Which is not surprising for a writer.
Despite the thinness and lightness of this keyboard, it never feels flimsy. I was worried that it wouldn’t be sturdy enough to actually set on your lap or a soft surface to type, but I’ve found it works fine on my bed and (with some careful positioning of the tablet’s kick-stand) does well on my lap.
If only Windows 8 was as user-friendly as this keyboard.