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Surface off a surface: better but still not great

Last updated on March 8, 2014

With its signature keyboard cover detached, it was easy to use the original Surface RT in your lap. However, actually trying to type with the device while it was positioned there could end with your Surface hitting the lowest surface in the immediate vicinity, often the one at your feet. It was simply too easy for the weight of the device to overwhelm the high center of gravity that the Surface had when resting on its kickstand, particularly on an uneven sloping landscape, e.g., one’s lap.

It’s a bit surprising that Microsoft would implement a second kickstand position that extends its already larger-than-laptop footprint when the keyboard cover is extended. However, it has done just this in the name of better stability, particularly when used in that common scenario that gives that laptop its name. The result has been an improvement when used in the lap as the lower center of gravity helps with stability.

However, it’s still not as stable an experience as a laptop. The keyboard cover’s connection to the tablet does not cover the device’s width and its rubbery texture allows for a lot of give. As a result, there’s a good chance you’ll notice the screen to tilt to a slight angle off from where you’re typing. Customers may not find this so distracting, but it drives home the point that there continue to be some things that the trusty old clamshell form factor handles better than the type cover.

That said, newer designs like those on the Dell Venue Pro 11 and Nokia Lumia 2520 rely on a type cover on which the entire tablet rests and where there is no gap in terms of the footprint as there is with the Surface’s kickstand, so lap stability may be better.