Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

The Touch Cover Fails

20130706_185441It has taken me some time to write a post about Windows Surface. Truth be told, Windows Surface did not win me over as a believer. I mean, it certainly is a nice tablet in many ways, and I can see it being useful. But at the same time, I’m pretty happy with my ultrabook and tablet. I don’t see Windows Surface replacing them. At least not right now.

But I’m always open to new technology. One of the nice things I like about Windows Surface, particularly the Pro, is that it is both a tablet and a regular Windows notebook at the same time. The Surface Pro is a bit clunkier than Surface RT, and perhaps most of other tablets, but it could be something I’d be willing to put up with if I needed to do more than a tablet typically would let you. The Surface RT, in my opinion, falls into the neither-here-nor-there category.

Tablets, for the most part, are designed for information consumption, i.e. to read articles, view photos, update yourself on Facebook happenings, etc. But if you need to do more than consume information, such as actually creating or manipulating information, the tablet is far from satisfactory. You could write simple emails on a tablet, but you couldn’t write long email proposals. You could do simple photo touchups on a tablet, but not heavy photoshop work.

So, it seems like Windows Surface is a real beauty, being both a tablet and a capable notebook at the same time. Fitted with a Touch Cover or Type Cover, Windows Surface would gain a formidable keyboard like no other. At least, without an after market product with an iPad.

I really thought Windows Surface would work.


Then, I chanced upon a Windows Surface at a retail shop and decided to try it out. The keyboard, in particular. After all, Windows 8 itself is not unfamiliar to me. What’s new is this keyboard thingy, and whether I could actually use a Windows Surface tablet comfortably for serious work.

In a nutshell, I was sorely disappointed. The Touch Cover is an utter failure. Sure, it’s nice and thin and light. When it was first unveiled, I thought Microsoft has really come up with something neat. Alas, the Touch Cover does not work. At least, not by a long shot compared with a proper keyboard. I wouldn’t even say it is an improvement over a virtual on-screen keyboard, apart from the fact that it wouldn’t occupy precious screen space.

What’s wrong with the Touch Cover? First of all, “touch” is really the wrong word to use. I expected the Touch Cover to respond to light touches like an on-screen keyboard would. No. You gotta hammer it. There’s no way a touch would suffice to register anything on the Touch Cover.

So, you may be wondering, and which I thought myself too, if I just type normally with some speed, it is quite natural that my fingers would strike the keyboard with more force than would ordinarily be considered a “touch”. Should I just try typing with some speed and see if that helps?

No. Apparently, even with the strike force from normal speed typing, there is still a one-third chance or thereabouts that the Touch Cover would not register the hit. You’ve really got to push on the keys of the Touch Cover. As a touch typist, this would totally not do.

Quite plainly, the Touch Cover is misnamed. Such a beautiful idea, totally failed execution.

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