In my last post, Microsoft Surface Buying Guide: Holidays 2014, I outlined some advice on which Surface to get for yourself (or as a gift) depending on the type of Surface user you are.
In this post, which I’m calling my Surface Accessories Buying Guide: Holidays 2014, I’m going to discuss which accessories would be most appreciated by the different types of Surface users as identified in my last post.
Just in case you don’t remember, here’s a short description of each type of Surface user I identified:
- Tablet User: A “classic” tablet user. Generally only using it for light tasks like web surfing, Facebook, and email.
- Business or Academic User: A business/academic user who does most or all of the above but also does business specific tasks like Power Point presentations, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, create/edit PDF files, and run specialized business or academic software.
- Power User: These are your artists and movie makers/editors. They’ll often also use it for the classic tablet use tasks but they are really worried about performance when running their high-end programs. Part-time gamers may fall into this category as well.
- Gamers: Ah, gamers. Being one myself this category is near and dear to me. Gamers always worry about performance, frame rate, more performance, and resolution when playing their favorite game. Did I mention, performance?
I’ll point out which type of Surface user would most benefit from each accessory. That doesn’t mean that you should get all of the accessories or only look at the accessories for your particular category as each of you is unique and you may have a good reason to want an accessory that I didn’t recommend.
After all, these recommendations are just that – Recommendations. OK, now that that’s clear, let’s get started….
Surface Accessories Buying Guide: Power Adapters
In this section, I’m going to cover power adapters for your Surface tablet.
Extra Power Adapter for Surface 2: Any Surface 2 Owner
I’m (almost) always going to recommend a spare power adapter. It’s just a good idea. It’s a lot easier to have one at home and one in the office than it is to try to remember to haul a single power supply back and forth every day.
Extra Power Adapter Surface Pro 3: Any Surface Pro 3 Owner
Like I said above, I think pretty much every Surface Pro 3 owner should just plan on getting a spare power adapter for the same reasons as the Surface 2 owners. Joanna has one for her home office and one that she keeps at work. It makes life easier for her.
Surface Accessories Buying Guide: Keyboards and Mice
In this section, we’ll go over keyboards and mice I would recommend. I’ll also point out the type of user I would recommend each accessory for.
Surface 2 Keyboard Cover: Business and Academic Users
All Surface 2 owners *could* use a Surface 2 Type Cover but, if you’re a Business or Academic user, it’s almost a required accessory. It’s a bit expensive but will be necessary for your business or academic endeavors.
Surface Pro 3 Keyboard Cover: Business and Academic Users
All Surface Pro 3 owners can use a Surface Pro 3 Type Cover but, as above, if you’re a Business or Academic user, you’ll simply need a keyboard. If you don’t want to spend the money on Type Cover, you can save a bit by going with one of the ones Joanna covered in her post, Keyboards and Mice for Surface Tablets.
However if you fall into the Tablet User category, I would actually recommend against getting a keyboard cover (at first anyway) because for the type of things that you most often do, the touch controls may work fine for you (and save you $130USD). besides, you can always get one later if it turns out you need one.
Same goes for the Gamer category. Mainly because, for gaming, both the Surface 2 Type Cover and Surface Pro 3 Type Cover kind of suck. As a Gamer, I would look at getting a Surface Pro 3 docking station (In the Miscellaneous section) and using one of these keyboard/mouse combinations.
Corsair Vengeance K70 keyboard: Hard Core Gamers
The K70 is a top of the line gaming keyboard with pretty every feature Hard Core Games would want. On the downside, it’s very expensive. But hey, I never said that gaming was cheap…
Corsair M65 Gaming Mouse: Hard Core Gamers
I got this mouse as part of a birthday gift and I really ended up liking it. It’s a bit on the expensive side and takes some getting used to but I really like its responsiveness and accuracy.
Redragon Gaming Mouse & Keyboard Set: Hobby Gamers or Hard Core Gamers on a Budget.
A friend of mine got this set a while back because he was a bit short on money after buying his gaming rig. Turns out it was a good little budget gaming keyboard and mouse and he’s still using it.
Surface Accessories Buying Guide: Carrying Cases
Do yourself a favor and invest in a decent carrying case. Doesn’t matter which one but get one. Otherwise, you’ll really regret it when your Surface falls out of your hands while you’re juggling your cell phone, keys, wallet, and Tablet.
Evercase Ultraportable Carrying Case for Surface 2: Tablet Users
If you have (or are gifting) a Evecase UltraPortable Travel Handle Case as an inexpensive option. Joanna has one and loves it. See Joanna’s post on Surface Tablet Carrying Cases.Evercase Ultraportable Carrying Case for Surface Pro 3: Tablet Users with a Surface Pro 3, Academic Users, Power Users, Gamers
If you went for the Surface Pro 3, the larger SP3 version Evecase Neoprene Messenger Tote is a nice and relatively inexpensive option to safely transport your new tablet. Also see our review of the Manvex Leather Case – quite nice for business users.
Cady Messenger Bag For Surface Pro 3: Business Users
If you’re planning on taking your Surface Pro 3 with you when you’re heading over to game with friends I recommend the Cady Messenger Cube case to keep it safe, As a bonus, this hard sided leatherette case just screams “business” to help you impress your boss, peers, or clients.
Surface Accessories Buying Guide: Microsoft Office
If you have a Surface 2, you get an included copy of Office RT which will do pretty much anything you would want it to do. However, if you opt for the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft doesn’t include a copy of Office (yes, they should but they don’t) so, here’s some advice on which version to get.
Microsoft Office 365: Business Users, Academic Users, Power Users
If you’re in business or school, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll need Microsoft Office at some point.
Below is some advice for you depending on whether or not you are a business or academic user since your purchasing options and costs are different depending on which category you fit into.
- If you’re a student you’ll want to check with your school to see if you can get in on their license (for example, at the University of Michigan, students can get a copy of Office for under $50USD). In some cases, you can even get it for free, see Office 365 University edition here.
- If you’re a business user, however, you’re a little more at the mercy of Microsoft. You can find the Office 365 Small Business Premium edition of Microsoft Office here. If that’s a little too much for you, you can try one of the Office alternatives we outlined in our post titled Microsoft Office Alternatives For Surface Pro.
- If you’re a Power User, you could very well need a copy of Office. You’ll likely have to go to the Office 365 Small Business Premium edition but, if you’re also a student, check with your school for deals first.
Surface Accessories Buying Guide: Adapters
The Surface comes with video, audio and USB ports that you can use to expand the capabilities of your awesome little tablet. Here are a few recommendations on accesories you might find useful.External Video (VGA) Adapter: Business and Academic Users with a Surface Pro 3
If you’re going to be giving presentations in meetings or in class on OLD projectors, you’re probably going to need to be able to connect via VGA. Here’s a good VGA adapter I’d recommend for such purposes.
External Video (DVI) Adapter: Business and Academic Users with a Surface Pro 3
If you’re going to be giving presentations in meetings or in class, on newer projectors you’re probably going to need to be able to connect through DVI. Here’s a good DVI adapter I’d recommend for such purposes.
External Video (HDMI) Adapter: Business and Academic Users with a Surface Pro 3
Finally, If you’re going to be giving presentations in meetings or in class on brand-new projectors, you’re probably going to need to be able to connect via HDMI. Here’s a good HDMI adapter I’d recommend for that.
As you can see, I’ve been concentrating on the Surface Pro 3 users with the external video adapters but, if you happen to have the Surface 2 and want to connect your Surface to a monitor or projector, check out our Amazon Accessories Store for RT devices and you should find what you’re looking for.
4-in-1 USB Extender: Any Surface User
This little adapter lets you plug two USB 3.0 devices into the single USB port on your Surface. In addition it had slots for SD and MicroSD cards to let you easily access those media types.
128 GB MicroSD Card: Any Surface User
You can always use more storage, right? Well, put this little 128Gb MicroSD card in your Surface and you should be squared away for storage for a while.
Check out our post on Freeing up Space on Your Surface Tablet for instructions on how to install it.
Surface Accessories Buying Guide: Miscellaneous
Elastic Pen Loop: Any Surface Pro 3 Owner
If you go with the Surface Pro 3 and decide that you don’t need the Type keyboard, you’ll want to get the Leuchtturm Pen Loop to help keep the pen from being lost. Otherwise, you’ll probably be buying a replacement pen in about 3 months.
If you opt for the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover, keep in mind that it comes with a pen loop in the package.
Surface Pro 3 Docking Station: Business Users, Academic Users, Power Users, Gamers
If your’e a Business or Academic user I’d probably get the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking Station in your situation. Especially since it offers support for multiple monitors via DisplayPort 1.2 which can make editing documents or writing reports so much easier.
If you’re a Power User or Gamer then I would definitely recommend getting the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Docking Station (especially for the latter) as it’s can be difficult to game on the Surface’s screen because of the size.
Hopefully, you’ve found this overview on Surface accessories helpful. If I missed an accessory you feel should have been included in the list, please let me (and your fellow readers) know about it in the comments.
Tim Rolston is a professional geek with over 23 years of experience working in Information Technology and dealing with everything from large-scale storage to remote systems management and automation for organizations such as Texas Instruments, Mobil Oil, and the University of Michigan (where he was an Academic IT Director).
He co-founded JTRTech along with Joanna to realize his long-time dream of working for himself.