I am a proficient touch typist and have been for 18 years now since training in the Royal Navy at 45 wpm. In this review I am going to share my initial thoughts on my experience using the new Microsoft Surface RT with soft touch keyboard.
Typing on the soft touch keyboard does take some getting used to as there is very little feedback. The main issue I have is with the space bar, it is just not sensitive enough and I regularly miss a space and have to waste time using the back space to remove the next characters and then reinsert the space bar.
The second bug bear is the tap sound that is enabled by default for every key press, this get annoying very quickly, especially for those around you that don’t want to have to hear you type, its worse than the old clunky IBM keyboards from the 80s and 90s ! This feature can be disabled by following these simple steps:
- Swipe your finger across the screen, starting at the right hand edge, this will produce a side menu.
- Click on the Setting option then click Change PC Settings
- Navigate to the General section, and look for Touch Keyboard
- Find the option for “Play key sounds as I type”, slide the icon until it turns from orange to grey
- To return to your previous screen; swipe your finger across the screen starting from the left hand edge, this should show a thumbnail of the previous screen that you drag and let go
Once this option is disabled, the soft touch keyboard is very quiet to use, and after typing this review I now find it’s only every 5th or 6th word that I miss the space, perhaps this will improve as my finger get used to the change in sensitivity requirements (for my thumbs on the space bar)
The final point to note may be specific to OneNote, the application I have used to compose this review. When I want to correct a word in passage, or insert additional letters or words, there is no simple way of navigating to specific character in the text using my finger. On many other touch devices, the method used is one where the user holds their finger in the approximate space required, then a magnified view of the area is shown to allow a more precise placement of the cursor. As this functionality isn’t available in this instance, I have to try to guess where the cursor will end up as I repeatedly tap the screen with my finger, each time getting a bit closer to the mark, or accepting the nearest location and using the arrow keys or backspace/delete keys. Instead, it is best to revert to using the built-in touchpad, this is acceptable and works very well, but having the choice to use either method is almost expected given the standards across all other products and vendors, including Windows Phone 7 & 8.
In summary, I believe I am going to enjoy using the Microsoft Surface as my travel companion and most likely a replacement for my chunky laptop for 80% of my workload. Although, I will have to test out the other version of the keyboard, I just miss that feedback of knowing you have actually pressed the key, instead of a soft velvet touch as pleasing that might be