If I had to guess, you love your Microsoft Surface! All of the fun of a tablet but the business of a laptop. It is the mullet of the IT world! Unlike the mullet, the Surface is not completely perfect. If you want the stability of a desktop, the power of mobility, and to be ready for any situation, you will want these 5 must have accessories for your Microsoft Surface.
Note: If you are looking for a Microsoft Surface Docking station instead of these extra gadgets, check out this review.
Gadget 1: The Right Keyboard
Forget the fancy Bluetooth keyboards. If you want to turn the Surface tablet into a laptop, you will want to get the Black Type Keyboard from Microsoft. Although it is slightly thicker than the sleaker touch keyboard, the tactile feedback and rigid support it provides makes it the better choice if you will be doing any serious typing.
Initially, I thought I would prefer the coolness of the touch keyboard. The fact that I can’t feel the keys as I type and can only type on a hard surface made me quickly regret getting the touch keyboard. While Microsoft gives away a keyboard with the Surface RT, you’ll have to buy one with the Surface Pro. In my opinion, it is the most useful gadget.
Black Type Keyboard: $133.99
Gadget 2: A Decent Hub
The Surface Pro has a single USB port. It is USB 3, which is insanely fast compared to USB 2. On the road, a single port probably isn’t a very big deal. But if you ever want to make your Surface Pro your primary machine at work, you will need a few more USB ports. I think this 10 port USB 3 hub should do the trick.
The thing that I love about this hub is how slender it is and how easily this can be mounted out of sight when hiding cables. With the speed that USB 3 provides, you can easily run several USB attached devices including external monitors.
Uspeed USB 3.0 10-Port Hub: $53.99
Gadget 3: External Video Cards
It is rare to find an IT professional with just a single monitor. So often, we constantly bounce between applications and tools. Multiple monitors are a must. At work, I use three monitors and know many others that do the same. While you can certainly use a mini DisplayPort to DVI cable to connect a single monitor, why not take advantage of the USB 3 speed provided by a hub. As a bonus, you only need to connect a single USB cable (the hub) to attach multiple monitors!
In our organization, we regularly use these StarTech External Video Card Adapters for employees wanting multiple monitors. Because they are USB 3 and have a resolution of 2048 x 1152, they make perfect adapters for the Surface Pro. In fact, I have ran up to 6 monitors at once using external video card adapters without any issues! I’ve since scaled back to 3 monitors. 6 just seemed like too much. 🙂
If you plan on using the Plugable Docking Station with your Microsoft Surface, you will need a video card that uses the DisplayLink technology. Here is one that I have personally used: IOGEAR USB 2.0 External DVI Video Card GUC2020DW6
Gadget 4: A USB NIC Adapter
Microsoft makes a USB NIC adapter for the Surface Pro. At $40, it doesn’t seem like too terrible of a deal. That is until you find out that it is only USB 2 and is only 10/100. A better deal can be found with this USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet NIC Adapter.
To me, the three coolest features of this adapter are: the driverless install, Wake On LAN support, and the stability it provides. When coupled with the gadgets above, your Microsoft Surface can seamlessly act like a desktop by attaching just one USB cable.
Gadget 5: Power Supply
Having a spare power adapter for your Surface means never misplacing or forgetting your primary adapter at your desk or on a trip. Because Microsoft now confirms that the 24W Surface RT power supply will work on the Surface Pro, you can save some money by using it as your spare power supply.
Although charging will be a little slower, the smaller power adapter is worth the trade off. Because the adapter only has one cable instead of two cables, the power supply is a lot cleaner in appearance and easier to pack.
Surface 24W Power Supply: $68.27
My Complete Surface
There you have it! Those five gadgets can turn your Surface Pro from a great tablet into the only device you need – at work or on the road! The only thing left is to setup Hyper-V and carry your test lab with you anywhere you go! My question for you is – did I miss anything? Do you think you need some more storage? A memory card adapter? If you know of a good extra gadget, let me know in the comments below.
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