Arguably the standout feature of Microsoft's Surface tablet range, its clever, slim, brilliantly engineered keyboard covers are synonymous with the Surface and its "click" campaign. Attaching via a magnetic connector at the base of the Surface tablets, they provide a full keyboard, with either capacitive touch or physical keys, and also help to protect the Surface's screen.
Naturally, then, with the debut of both the Surface Pro 2 and the Surface 2, new covers were bound to follow, and Microsoft has not only updated the originals, but added a third to the line-up as well.
First the Touch Cover 2. This was the one thing that made most hardcore iPad fans jealous -- the original was incredibly slim, offered a full, capacitive QWERTY keyboard, and required no batteries or cables or cases to connect to the Surface. How to improve upon it? Simple, make it thinner, more responsive and illuminate everything. Yup, Microsoft has slimmed the Touch Cover further, reducing it to just 0.1-inches thick. They've also upped the accuracy of its keys, beefing up the original's 80 sensors to over 1000 on the new model, which should help touch-typists keep up a fast typing pace. Aiding that is backlighting, which illuminates every key and the perimeter of the keyboard, and is activated by a proximity sensor, reducing the drain on the Surface's battery. It's available in purple, pink, black and blue for $120.
Microsoft's other keyboard cover, the Type Cover, was less flashy than the Touch, but arguably more useful, offering physical keys and a useable trackpad in a slightly thicker package. This time around, Microsoft has removed 0.04-inches from its thickness, making it as slim as the original Touch Cover, while also reducing the keyswitch to aid key travel and provide a faster, more accurate typing experience. On top of that, proximity-activated backlighting is also included here, and colurs are the same as the Touch Cover 2 with black, blue, pink and purple -- an upgrade on the original's black-only. It'll launch with the Touch Cover and the new Surfaces on October 22 for $130.
Microsoft's newest Cover is possibly the one many business users, and those who travel often, will be most excited for. The Power Cover adds an extra 30Wh battery into it's slim frame, which is only slightly thicker than the Type Cover, and features the same physical keys as its brother, but will use its added battery to boost the charge life of both Surfaces by up to 50%. With the Power Cover added, the Surface Pro 2 will last 2.5 hours longer. The cost for that extra juice? A rather steep $199.99, but it could be worth it if you regularly work on the move, or fly internationally often -- and it's certainly a sleeker package than many solutions for competing tablets. The Power Cover will launch after its relatives, sometime early next year according to Microsoft.