Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is one of the best business tablets around. And with the right accessories, it's even better. A keyboard dock can turn your Surface Pro 3 into a laptop computer, and a docking station can help it replace your office PC. And accessories like a mouse and a portable charging bag can make you even more productive on the go.
Microsoft recently announced that all official Surface Pro 3 accessories will be compatible with the next-generation Surface Pro device, so business users can confidently invest in a new Surface this year. With that said, here are five of the best add-ons for Microsoft's premium business slate.
Keyboard: Type Cover
You'll have to pair the Surface Pro 3 with a physical QWERTY keyboard if you want to get real work done. Luckily, Microsoft's Type Cover is one of the best tablet keyboards out there. With the help of magnets, it connects to the base of the Surface Pro 3 at a slightly sloped angle that's quite comfortable for typing. The full-size keys are a bit shallower than on a typical laptop computer, but that allows the Type Cover to be one of the thinnest and lightest keyboard accessories out there. It also features a big, responsive touchpad for more accurate pointing in Windows 8.1. And the Surface Pro 3 has a built-in kickstand, so you can easily stand it up while you type, and tilt the kickstand to get the best viewing angle.
Desktop dock: Surface Pro 3 Docking Station
All Surface Pro 3 models come equipped with a powerful Intel Core-series processor, which gives you speed and performance on par with a desktop computer. So why not use your Surface Pro 3 on the desktop? Microsoft's docking station makes that prospect easier, with a slew of ports for connecting desktop accessories like a mouse, keyboard, external hard drive or monitor. It adds three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet port for wired Internet and a Mini DisplayPort, which could come in handy for business presentations. And, of course, the docking station also charges your Surface Pro 3, so you always have a full battery when you leave the office.
Mouse: Arc Mouse
If buying a mouse for a tablet sounds crazy, try editing a spreadsheet with a touch screen. You'll quickly realize that some tasks simply require more precision than you can get with just your fingers. That's why Microsoft makes two different mice for the Surface Pro 3. The Wedge Mouse is a small, portable mouse in a sleek wedge shape, while the Arc Mouse features a unique, superthin design at a slightly higher price. Both mice connect to the Surface Pro 3 via Bluetooth, so there's no need to fuss with wires. Of course, you can connect any Bluetooth mouse, as well as any wired USB mouse, to the Surface Pro 3, but Microsoft's options stand out, thanks to their sleek and portable designs.
Cover: Maroo Leather Folio
If you're going to spend this much on a gadget, you ought to keep it safe with a case. We're partial to the Maroo Leather Folio for the Surface Pro 3, which covers the front and back of your Surface Pro 3, including an attached Type Cover keyboard. At $50, it's a little pricier than some other cover options, but we like Maroo's offering, since the stitched leather cover is durable and looks professional. The best part: You can continue to use the Surface Pro 3's kickstand when it's in the cover.
Portable charger: Phorce Pro
Great features and fast hardware won't get you very far if your tablet is always running out of juice. The Surface Pro 3 offers battery life that's about on par with the average ultraportable laptop (it ran for about 7 hours and 40 minutes in a test involving continuous Web browsing), but many power users are going to need more than that. The Phorce Pro "smart bag" can recharge your Surface Pro 3 as well as your smartphone and laptop computer with a big, built-in battery pack. It features places to plug in your laptop's AC adapter, as well as three USB ports for charging your tablet and smartphone. According to Phorce, the bag can fully recharge a laptop computer, and charge a smartphone more than a dozen times. You can also see how much juice your bag has left by connecting it to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. At $649 for the PC version, the Phorce Pro is definitely not a cheap charger, but business users who work on the go will be able to make the most of it.