7 reasons to get the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3

If you're a Surface Pro 3 owner, you're probably tempted to get the newer Surface Pro 4. However, as Dan mentioned in the Surface Pro 4 review, the gains are probably not worth the cost if you're a Surface Pro 3 user. You can still upgrade your experience by buying the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover for your Surface Pro 3. It's fully compatible. We'll give you 7 reasons to get the new Type Cover.

1. Larger trackpad. The Surface Pro 4 Type Cover's trackpad is 40% larger than in the previous Type Cover. This means more room for scrolling, or dragging and dropping items.

2. Smoother trackpad. The trackpad is now made of very smooth glass. It feels much better to swipe than the previous Type Cover.

3. Buttons are more spaced out. The increased separation between the keys makes it easier and faster to type without looking down. The buttons are slightly smaller, but not enough to be an issue.

4. Longer key travel. When you type, the buttons go down a little further than the ones found on the previous Type Cover. Typing feels softer, too.

5. There's now a PrtScn button. Instead of pressing three buttons, Windows key + Fn + Space bar to take a screenshot of your desktop, you can now do it with two buttons. With the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover, you can press Windows key + PrtScn.

6. Optional Fingerprint scanner. The Surface Pro 3 doesn't have a Windows Hello-compatible camera, but the new Type Cover with Fingerprint ID lets you sign in to your machine by placing your finger on the scanner.

7. There's now a dedicated contextual menu. I thought this was useless at first, but there's a contextual menu button on the new Type Cover. It lets you right-click on items when you don't want to use the mouse or trackpad.

I did not have many complaints about the Type Cover on the Surface Pro 3, but the latest version greatly improves my experience. It almost feels like having a new Surface. Are these reasons good enough to buy the new Type Cover for your Surface Pro 3? Let us know in the comments!

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Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

131 Comments
  • Good reasons
  • would that dedicated menu button have the same function as an Xbox one's controller's menus button? That'll come in handy when playing Xbox games on the surface pro...
  • It's the same context menu button that's been on Windows keyboards for 30 years.
  • This is why I follow you guys! Keep it up. Is the new pen compatible?
  • Yes
  • Yes, the pen is functions, but your stuck with 256 levels of pressure sensitivity.  You need the Pro 4 to take advantage of more pressure sensitivity.   There  are a few plusses 1) the tips and 2) the buttons do work.
  • I don't like the fact they are copying a pencil with eraser design.  Seems stupid to have changed that. It's much more efficent on the previous pen since you down't have to flip it around and have to re-engage palm regection mode on that almost impossibly close detection range.
  • They could have easily supported both. it's just one additional button on the pen. If they get enough feedback asking for it, they'll do it (and they can just release another version of the pen, no need for any changes on the Surface)
  • I like having a natural eraser on the other end, I use it all the time when using the stylus on my SP1 and never have issues with palm rejection. With the stylus on the SP4 they've actually reverted to the original spec which was 1024 levels of pressure, single button on the barrel for right/click or lasso and eraser functionality on the top. 
  • Old pen has 2 buttons so I always had to guess which one to press and second I had to look to locate it. I prefer this new setup.
  • The reality is wacom pens with eraser tops have been around since XP tablet edition and people are used to them. I liked the two button function on the original pens, but i'll cope. Bought a new pen to use on either a Surface 3 Pro or Surface 3. On the latter currently. Works fine and the eraser seems natural. I grew up with #2 pencils though. The magnet is not particularly functional on a Surface 3 device. Nothing to attach to really. The single 'button' is a bit hard to find and press on the new pen IMHO too.  
  • Wouldn't you also add that it's a firmer keyboard without the rattle and flex of the previous? That seems easily top 3 reason to get it.
  • I would like to know, how good and how fast the fingerprint scanner works. Is it reliabe or do you have to try it more than once until it finally works (like in pretty old laptops).
  • I picked up the new keyboard yesterday (10/28) and the fingerprint reader is very good. Just place finger on the reader, and it unlocks. No swiping, not delay. It says you can setup multiple/extra fingers, but I have only done my index finger.
  • I think you can setup as many fingers as you want. I did three myself. It's always good to setup multiple fingers because if you get a cut or lose your print on a finger for some reason, you can use another.
  • It takes maybe a second to log in. It recognizes your finger almost instantly. Way faster than you could type a 4 digit pin.
  • Okay, thanks to both of you! Then I am buying it as soon as it's available in Austria. I'm wondering if it is worth buying the new pen as well. The differences are: eraser on back, only one button, longer battery life and changeable tips - that's all for SP3, right? Latency is same on SP3? If so, I think I'll pass on buying the new pen.
  • Different texture on the tips. More resistance when dragging, so feels more like a real writing instrument on paper instead of sliding plastic on glass. I don't really have much experience with either model, having not owned either. But I demoed the new pen at a store and it feels great. But everyone has personal preference, and it doesn't have the fancy number of sensitivity levels. So, really, if you have the chance when it comes out in Australia (whenever that'll be), bring your surface to a store and try out the new pens on it to get a feel. Only way to get a good feel for something so subjective. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah, I guess I'll have to try and decide for myself. I don't use it that much, just to take some notes in class and most often as a mouse substitute while watching series in bed^^ Btw. Austria /= Australia, here a link to bing maps to see it for yourself =P (http://binged.it/1Mlt2il​)
  • Own my laptop (just a normal Asus one) already two years, and never knew about the function of the "contextual menu"-button...
  • My laptop doesn't even have one and I get very annoyed by its absence.
  • Shift+F10 does the same thing in most scenarios. I learned that one on the Windows 3-era keyboards that don't have Start (Ctrl+Esc) or Context Menu keys.
  • +929
    I like use the keyboard more than mouse and my laptop doesn't have the contextual menu key, so that was for a long time a problem for me, until a friend told me the shift + f10 combo, since then I don't miss it anymore
  • Contextual menu = right click from the mouse
  • I'm going to order one, didn't saw PrtScn button :) But this is awesome, and huge plus. So fotkey will be Win + PrtScn or Fn + PrtScn?
  • Win + PrtScn
  • Double click on SP3 pen purple button too.
  • Looks like this is because of my preferences.
    I have F1-F12 enabled by default so in ny case it should be Fn + PrtScn to buffer and Fn + Win + PrtScn for auto saving to Screenshots folder
  • Another good reason: after 18 months of use, my old Type Cover is getting worn out anyway! :D
  • Six reasons for anyone outside US.
  • True, though still good reasons. I just picked up a new Surface Pro 3 for a good price, and grabbed the new Type Cover for SP4 (not fingerprint version) for it. I'm in Canada, so the fingerprint one isn't available here either, plus its only in black anyway (boring).
  • yeah i want a bright blue fingerprint one
  • Agreed, but the ability to use your finger print quickly resolves that minor issue in my mind.
  • Have they given a reason for the fingerprint version not being available outside of the US? Or will it be released at a later date?
  • Almost certainly a US technology export restriction... I seriously doubt Microsoft can do anything about it.
  • haha after 5 years of having my thinkpad W510, i havent noticed the contextual menu key between my right alt and crtl until now!! :D LOL
  • If they'd only put an eraser head in the middle of the keyboard like the ThinkPads...
  • That's true, why don't they sell the cover with fingerprint scanner outside the US?
  • I will be replacing my type cover soon
  • Is the new SP4 keyboard not Stiffer as well? I thought that was one of the things they touted; or is it not noticeably stiffer?
  • Microsoft said it's lighter, thinner, stiffer at their keynote, but it's not that noticeable
  • Not thinner... If anything out may be a little thicker.
  • I have a Surface 3 (not Pro.) would this keyboard work for it? Probably not as it is too big. If not I hope the non-Pro version will be just as good! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Different size
  • i assume the keyboard would work, the typing experience would be exactly the same, but obviously the cover would stick out over the edges of your device technically making it incompatible. i think this because i tried out the sp3 and s3 cover on my sp1 and since they havent changed the connector the new cover should work too. like i said, the only problem would be the awkwardness of the different sizes and maybe the keys touching the screen because of that. if you are interested in one, i would suggest taking your s3 to the closest store that has one of these new covers and trying it out on your device.
  • The Pro 4 keyboard will not work on the Surface 3, sadly. Tried it in store and confirmed by online support. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • That is too bad. I would have loved to get the Pro 4 keyboard with finger print scanner for my Surface 3 when it is docked and then use the correctly sided keyboard for travel.
  • I'll bet you'll be able to get some fingerprint capable keyboard, or finger print appliance, for your docked Surface 3 soon.  
  • Maybe it will hold me off from buying a Surface Book, at least until the Holidays!  I will drop by my local M