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June 3, 2017

Transform your Surface Pro into the ultimate mobile workstation with these accessories

by John_A

Microsoft’s new Surface Pro straddles the line between laptop and tablet by offering users a full-featured computing experience in a compact package. It’s a powerful device, but right out of the box it can seem a little barebones; without a keyboard or Surface Pen, it’s just a Windows-based tablet. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of everything you’ll need to get the most out of your new Surface Pro.

Surface Pen ($60)

Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Pen 2017

The Surface Pen is such an essential part of the Surface Pro experience that previous versions just included it in the box. Unfortunately, Microsoft opted to include it only as an add-on to the most recent Surface Pro, but it’s such a killer creative tool that it’s definitely worth the price of entry. Without it, the Surface Pro is a powerful Windows-based tablet, but with the Surface Pen, it’s a mobile sketchpad, notebook, and professional-grade artistic suite.

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Surface Pen Tip Kit ($20)

Surface Pen Tip Kit

On its own, the Surface Pen is a versatile tool for note-taking or artistic endeavors, but it’s still not quite as tactile as a real pen or pencil. With the optional tip kit, however, it comes remarkably close to the real thing. These optional tips allow users to customize the friction and drag of their Surface Pens, based on use or just personal preference. One emulates the frictionless glide of a ballpoint pen, while another provides the crisp and slightly-resistant drag of a number two pencil. Plus, it’s a handy kit to keep around just in case you lose your Surface Pen’s tip.

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Surface Dial ($100)

Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Pen 2017

Surface Dial! This thing’s weird, and it might not be for everyone, but it’s really cool. Have you ever adjusted the volume on a high-end stereo system and experienced that ever-so-slight resistance and smooth scrolling action? Well, Microsoft had the crazy idea to put that kind of user experience into a unique peripheral designed for use with its high-end desktop, the Surface Studio. The Surface Pro doesn’t have quite the screen real-estate as the Studio, but the Dial is still a worthy companion. On its own, it can be used to adjust system volume, rotate images, and scroll seamlessly through options in professional creative suites like Adobe Photoshop.

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Surface Arc Mouse ($80)

Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Pen 2017

Even if you spend most of your time using the Surface Pro as an artistic tool, now and then you might need to use it as a standard laptop — that’s where the Surface Arc mouse comes in. Sometimes you just need a mouse to easily navigate browser tabs, or all those fiddly little options in Microsoft Word. To make sure it’s always with you on-the-go, the Surface Arc actually bends to a flat position, so it’s easier to toss into a messenger bag pocket than a typical wireless mouse. When it’s time to get some work done, just snap it into mouse-mode, with a comfy little curve for your hand. From there, just pair it up with Bluetooth and start clicking through those browser tabs that are definitely not just Reddit posts debating the finer points of Overwatch lore.

Read our full review.

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Surface Type Cover Signature Edition ($160)

What use is a mouse without a keyboard? Well, a lot of use actually, but that’s beside the point. The Surface Pro can be used with just the on-screen keyboard, but try typing your way through anything longer than a quick email and you’ll start to feel the limitations of the touchscreen keyboard. Naturally, Microsoft developed its own ultra-fancy keyboard cover for the Surface Pro that turns an ordinary tablet into a portable — and super-soft — workstation. Clad in luxurious Alcantara material, the Surface Type Cover will set you back about $160, but for usability’s sake, it’s definitely worth it. The Surface Pro is marketed as an alternative to a standard laptop, but without an external keyboard like the Type Cover, it just doesn’t get the job done.

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Brydge 12.3 Keyboard Cover ($150)

Brydge Microsoft Surface keyboard

Assuming the Surface Pro has you firmly in its grasp, and a laptop isn’t an option but you still need some features missing from the Surface Book or Surface Laptop, you might want to consider the Brydge 12.3 keyboard cover. This thing turns your Surface Pro into a legit laptop, complete with keyboard, trackpad, durable hinge and rock-solid aluminum build. It’s nearly as expensive as the Type Cover but it can be kitted out with 128GB of onboard SSD storage, to further expand your Surface Pro’s utility as a mobile workstation.

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Outback Solo 2.0 Case for Surface Pro ($160)

Outback Solo 2 Surface Pro Bag

Now that you have all this extra stuff to turn your Surface Pro into a mobile workstation, you probably need something to carry it in, right? Well, San Francisco’s own Waterfield has you covered. With the Outback Solo 2.0, you can easily carry around your Surface Pro (with or without Type Cover), an external mouse, and a few other everyday carry items. The nice thing about this particular messenger bag — compared to the thousands of other messenger bags out there which would easily fit your Surface Pro — is that you can just remove the strap entirely for easy carrying as a particularly luxurious Surface Pro sleeve.

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Jack Spade Zip Sleeve ($80)

Jack Spade Zip Sleeve

Tempting as it is to go out and buy brand-new accessories for every new device in your life, sometimes the ones you have get the job done just fine. The Surface Pro will probably fit in your existing messenger bag or backpack without any trouble, but even with a cover on it, you’ll want to make sure that big glass display is kept safe from any hazards floating around in there — like Chapstick, stain-remover pens, and paperclips. The Jack Spade Surface Sleeve is an excellent companion to an existing messenger bag or backpack, and does just that. By enclosing your Surface Pro — and a few small accessories — inside, it’ll be safe from anything else in your bag.

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Surface Dock ($200)

Surface Pro Dock

The Surface Pro is marketed as a potential laptop replacement, and it can definitely get the job done, but not without a little help. It’s lightweight and easy to carry around, but it has a notable lack of ports. This device aims to remedy that, but don’t judge it by its high price — $200 is a lot for what amounts to a USB hub, but this thing is more than that. The Surface Dock sits on a desk and plugs directly into the Surface Pro, charging it while offering extra USB ports, two Mini-DisplayPort plugs, and an ethernet jack. Paired with an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard and this thing turns your Surface Pro into a portable desktop workstation.

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