When Microsoft announced that the new, improved Surface Pro 4 keyboard would work with the Surface Pro 3, I wondered if the upgrade might be a worthy one. Microsoft touted a better clickety key feel and also that the fingerprint reader would work with the Surface Pro 3.
This past week I spent time at an event that was located in the Radisson Blu hotel that is connected directly to the Mall of America in Minnesota (say it with me: min-eh-soh-da). Inside the huge mall is a Microsoft store located directly across from an Apple store. The Apple iPad Pro launched for purchase on November 11, so I visited the Apple store to get a quick hands-on. Unfortunately, Apple didn’t do a great job in preparation, as the store had no demo units nor did it have any for purchase. The store manager said I’d need to come back in a couple days, but he had no solid guidance, i.e. he really didn’t know.
So, with that trip a loss, I exited the store and actually felt a little icky. It’s not often I’m lured into an Apple store for anything other than to leave the Microsoft Surface web site showing on every device I touch. So, to make myself feel better, I popped into the Microsoft store across the hallway and picked up the Surface Pro 4 keyboard – the one with the fingerprint reader.
I’ll delve into setting up the fingerprint reader to work on a Surface Pro 3 in another article, but here I want to focus on the feature differences provided in the latest keyboard and why you might want to consider upgrading.
To me, the fingerprint reader login option is not enough of a reason. It’s neat, but not a deal-maker. Additionally, the fingerprint reader tacks on another $20. For some, with the added functionality with Windows Hello, that may seem a worthwhile investment. Here’s the prices…
Surface Pro 4 Keyboard ($129.99)
But, clear to me, there are two reasons you might want to upgrade your Surface Pro 3 keyboard to the Surface Pro 4 version. Those are:
- Bigger touchpad. The Surface Pro 3 keyboard’s touchpad is pretty small. I’m a big fan of a bigger touchpad. I generally hate touchpad technology, but a bigger finger area makes it livable. In the images below, the blue one is the Surface Pro 3 keyboard. The black one is for the Surface Pro 4/Surface Pro 3.
- Better key spacing. This is probably the biggest value in the Surface Pro 4 keyboard. As you can see in the pictures below, Microsoft expanded the spacing for the keys. The company also architected a new-to-Surface key-press design (that has existed in other keyboards for years), but that’s less of a selling point and more of a value-add, in my opinion. No, the beauty of the Surface Pro 4 keyboard is how it no longer expects you to type in a cramped space like you have hands the size of a 5-year old. The added space makes typing more comfortable and more natural.
Additionally, there have been some key placement changes you’ll need to get used to. These are primarily at the top and bottom rows of the keyboard. Some have changed places and some new ones have been added.