Offering the same backlit keyboard that debuted in Type Cover 2, the new Surface Pro Type Cover is of course resized to match the unique new size of the device it serves. But this Surface Pro 3 accessory isn't just a bigger version of its predecessor, it also offers a unique new magnetic connection that keeps the keyboard at a stable, more useful angle.
Note: It is perhaps notable that no Touch Cover is offered for Surface Pro 3. Microsoft told me that it expects the audience for this device to need a real keyboard and it currently has no plans to make larger Touch Cover for it.
Here's what's new with the Surface Pro Type Cover.
Magnetic stability strip. The single biggest addition is a unique magnetic stability strip that sits at the top of the Type Cover, between the top of the keyboard and the cover port connector. This strip magnetically attaches to Surface Pro 3, elevating the back of the Cover and providing both a better typing angle and a more stable experience, especially for those who wish to use the device on their lap. I am surprise by how effective this feature is, and how steady and non-bouncy the typing experience is.
Mechanical, backlit keys. As with the Type Cover 2, the Surface Pro Type Cover provides mechanical, backlit keys that incorporate a proximity sensor. The key "play" appears to be identical to that of Type Cover 2, meaning it's quite good.
Glass-like trackpad. I don't believe the bigger, new trackpad on Surface Pro 3 is actual glass, but it is just as good. This is arguably the second-biggest improvement on this accessory (after that magnetic stability strip), offering much more responsive and accurate performance. It is, in short, actually usable. Which is important because the Pro 3's single USB port limits the possibility of using an external mouse if you need that port for something else.
Colors. Surface Pro Type Cover comes in five color choices: Purple, red1, blue2, cyan, and black. The review unit came with a cyan unit, which wouldn't be my first choice.
Size. As you might expect, Surface Pro Type Cover has been sized to match the bigger Surface Pro 3, so it is both wider (295 mm vs. 279 mm) and taller (217 mm vs. 187 mm) than the Type Cover 2. That said, the keyboard itself is identical, with the same sized keys and key layout. Thus, this keyboard is about 90 percent as big as a full-sized Ultrabook keyboard, which could be an issue for some, including those with larger hands.
Thin and light. At just 5 mm thin, the Surface Pro Type Cover is even thinner than the Type Cover 2, which is 5.4 mm thin. As with previous typing covers, it's quite light, and of course provides good protection for the screen while traveling or in tablet mode.
Cover port. The cover port on this Surface Pro Type Cover is identical to that used on previous typing covers like the Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2. This means that the covers and devices are cross-compatible, though there's not much call to use a Surface Pro Type Cover on an older device, of course.
Cost. Like the Type Cover 2 before it, the Surface Pro Type Cover costs a too-expensive $129.99. This accessory is a requirement for Surface Pro 3, I feel, and should be included with the device. That said, the availability of color choices may make up for that. Still, whichever Surface Pro 3 model you choose to buy, be sure to budget another $130 for a Surface Pro Type Cover.