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The Best Upgrade for Your Surface Pro 3 is the SP4 Keyboard

This is a daily opinion column written by Lowell Heddings, the founder of How-To Geek, featuring his take on the latest in the world of technology.


If you have a Surface Pro 3, there’s no reason to upgrade to the Surface Pro 4. The tablet itself is too expensive to warrant upgrading for slightly better specs — but the new Type keyboard… that’s a whole different thing. You need to do yourself the favor of upgrading your SP3’s sad keyboard to the great new SP4 keyboard. Yes, it’s backwards compatible.

I’ve never really understood the point of the Surface Pro line — despite the marketing, it can’t replace your laptop because the kickstand just doesn’t give you the balance you need, and the keyboard case isn’t sturdy enough for serious typing. And then there’s the keyboard, which isn’t that great, but is made enough worse by the terrible touchpad.

Where I live in Northern Virginia, anywhere you go you’ll see people using a Surface tablet — coffee shops, sandwich shops, lounges, or anywhere else that people like to sit and conduct business. They are everywhere, all the time… and never once have I seen anybody using a Surface tablet in… tablet mode. Or in laptop mode. Every single time I have seen somebody using one, they are always using it at a desk or table… the Surface Pro is the tablet that can replace your desktop. Just not your laptop.

The Surface Pro is an amazingly well constructed device, it’s a high quality tablet, for sure. And it deserves a better keyboard to go along with it.

Why the Surface Pro 4 Type Keyboard is So Much Better

Just take a look at the new SP4 keyboard and you’ll immediately see the difference — the keys are actually separated and look like any great chiclet-style keyboard does. It’s actually enjoyable to type on, assuming you are sitting at a desk or table.

And then there’s the trackpad, which is easily as good as any regular PC laptop trackpad. It’s smooth, wider than the SP3 version, and works well.

Surface Pro 4’s keyboard has great keys, and a very decent trackpad

Contrast that with the Surface Pro 3’s keyboard, which has keys so close together that it’s really hard to hit  them accurately, and a weird trackpad that just does not feel good to the touch.

You might notice that this keyboard has a lot of dust on it. And that’s because it’s awful and I never feel like using it.

The Surface Pro 3 keyboard’s keys are way too close together

And the SP4 keyboard also has the option of getting the model with a built-in fingerprint reader, which is pretty useful for logging into your computer. We’ll have some more on that in a future update.

The Surface Pro 4 Type Keyboard even has a fingerprint reader

So there you have it. The best upgrade for your SP3 is an SP4 keyboard.