The LinDon-Tech Bluetooth keyboard features a similar connector to that of the Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3 and is one of the only third-party peripherals for it that do. So will the savings in cost outweigh any potential sacrifices in the quality of the LinDon-Tech Keyboard? Read on to learn more.
The £29 LinDon-Tech Keyboard for the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is one of the few third-party keyboards available that utilise the same form-factor and design features of the Microsoft Type Cover. It physically connects to the Surface in exactly the same way as Microsoft’s keyboard, with a plastic “locator” lug with magnets that allow it to snap to the bottom of the Surface. It features a similar material-hinge so it can fold closed over the screen, doubling up a screen protector.
Connecting The LinDon-Tech Bluetooth Keyboard
That is where the similarities with the Microsoft Type Cover end. As the name suggests, the Lindon-Tech Bluetooth Keyboard connects via Bluetooth rather than Microsoft’s proprietary connector – which is not available for third-party accessory vendors. The keyboard also lacks magnets that put the Surface to sleep when you cover the screen and the magnetic strip that holds the Type Cover in the angled position against the bottom of the Surface. However, if you’ve read my article asking whether the Surface 3 is still a viable purchase, you will know that I am not a fan of that angle anyway.
Connecting the LinDon-Tech keyboard via Bluetooth to the Microsoft Surface with Windows 10 is a breeze. You switch on the keyboard via the physical switch on the side of the keyboard, press the “connect” button and then search for new devices within Windows. You are prompted to enter a random number on the keyboard then hit the enter key and it’s connected. There are no drivers or software to install, which has its pros and cons, as we shall see..
Day to Day Use – Typing and Touchpad of the LinDon-Tech Keyboard
Let me be clear here; I am not a keyboard aficionado. I do not own a mechanical keyboard or know whether I prefer black, green, blue or brown switches. My preferred key-of-choice is the “chiclet” or “island” style key as found on the Mac keyboard.Comparing the LinDon-Tech Bluetooth keyboard to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Type Cover, I actually prefer the LinDon-Tech because it also features chiclet keys whereas the Microsoft Type Cover has no spacing between the keys so does need a little bit of re-training when it comes to touch-typing and muscle memory.
The keyboard layout is US QWERTY, so there are a few keys which are incorrectly labelled for the UK. For touch-typers though that is a very minor issue. The keyboard does also follow the somewhat recent trend of swapping the function and utility keys around, so if you want to use the “F2” key, you must combine it with the “fn” key, otherwise you will adjust the brightness. This is a pet peeve of mine. Oddly, the spacebar has a camera icon to use with the function key, but rather than taking a screenshot, it actually increases the volume and emulates the down-arrow. Unfortunately it also has a shallow enter key, this allows for a wider left shift key which makes finding shift very easy but I do find myself hitting the backslash key which types the hash symbol. So a little bit of muscle memory retraining for touch-typers and extremely frustrating for hunt-and-poke typers.
The keys themselves have very positive feedback without being too stiff, so it is easy to type quickly and it remains comfortable to use over longer periods. I have used the LinDon-Tech keyboard for four consecutive hours without comfort any issues.
The touchpad is a different story altogether. Again, if you have read my article on the Microsoft Surface 3, you will know that I am not exactly a fan of the Type Cover keyboard’s touchpad. The LinDon-Tech keyboard is just as annoying to use. If anything, more-so.
Firstly, The LinDon-Tech keyboard’s touchpad suffers with the same “lag” as the Type Cover when scrolling – that is, when you first start scrolling with two fingers it takes about a centimetre’s worth of scrolling before your page starts scrolling. This is leading me to think that possibly it’s a Windows’ issue rather than the keyboards’ issues, possibly trying to recognise it as a gesture?
The lag is also apparent when using the touchpad with one finger only it is more exaggerated and I can move my finger nearly halfway across the width of the touch area before the cursor starts moving. Although, I do wonder if this is actually due to the keyboard “sleeping” to conserve battery or Windows 10 taking over again.
I mentioned above that LinDon-Tech don’t provide drivers or software for their Surface Pro Bluetooth keyboard. That is great for “plug and play” (or rather, connect and play) but the issue is that I cannot disable any of the “features”.
One such “feature” is tap to click. I don’t like this at the best of times but with the LinDon-Tech Keyboard, it is painfully sensitive to the point of it making the touchpad unusable. Around 50-60% of the time, I try to just control the cursor and I end up inadvertently dragging, highlighting or moving something. The sensitivity led me to start looking for registry hacks to try to disable tap to click. Whist I haven’t found anything that successfully disables it, I have managed to reduce the sensitivity to around 20-30%. As far as I am concerned, this is totally unacceptable.
This might sound like an odd issue to get hung up on when we are talking about the Microsoft Surface 3 Pro, which has a touch screen. The whole point of a touchpad though is that it is far more accurate than your finger on a touchscreen, but this touchpad falls way short of the mark.
The one redeeming feature of the LinDon-Tech keyboard’s touchpad is the fact it has two, independent, physical mouse buttons. They don’t give a particularly satisfying “click” more of a “spudge” really, but they are actual buttons and I welcome them, This is far superior to the Microsoft Type Cover’s clickable regions on the touchpad which I find to be terrible.
Using The LinDon-Tech Keyboard as A Screen Protector
The Lindon-Tech keyboard is somewhere around twice as thick as the Type Cover keyboard which is beneficial when it comes to screen protection of the Surface Pro 3. I feel more comfortable with the LinDon Tech sat against the screen than I do with Microsoft’s offering. It feels very rigid and it could probably take a fair few knocks without flexing or impacting on the screen itself.
The material hinge is also more rigid than the hinge on the Type Cover. This, combined with a less-powerful magnet in the plastic “lug” connector means that I often find that when I take the Surface Pro back out of its carry case, the lug has popped out of the locator on the bottom of the Surface. So were it lose in a bag (opposed to the bespoke carry case I use) I would expect the keyboard to be completely separated from the Surface. I wouldn’t have much confidence in putting the Surface and LinDon-Tech in a backpack for travelling. The weak magnet actually bothered me more than I would have imagined.
One final note on the LinDon-Tech keyboard: it does not put the Surface Pro 3 to sleep when covering the screen. It’s a minor point but it’s another thing to remember, right?
LinDon-Tech Bluetooth Keyboard Review Conclusion
During my time with the LinDon-Tech keyboard, I have been trying to access the company’s website to see if any drivers or supporting software is available. Unfortunately it has been down for the entire week, which in itself does not bode well.
So, wrapping this up.. Is the LinDon-Tech Bluetooth a good purchase? I’m going to have to say no. The lower price (£29 at the time of writing) just does not make up for the minor niggles (the weak magnet, no sleep and American layout keyboard) combined with the thoroughly frustrating touchpad.
The LinDon-Tech keyboard is really only acceptable if you are literally looking for a Bluetooth keyboard and won’t be using it for the touchpad. If that’s your aim however, there are better Bluetooth keyboards for the same (or less) money.