Microsoft is taking a stab at the luxury accessory market with a new Type Cover for the Surface Pro 3 and 4 tablets.
Today, with Milan Design Week as a backdrop, the Redmond, Wash., software and device maker unveiled its fashionable new Signature Type Cover. Based on the latest, non-fingerprint ID equipped version of the tablet accessory, the offering is draped in Alcantara, a synthetic material sourced in Italy that is typically used in luxury automotive interiors, furnishings and other high-end applications.
In an April 11 announcement, Rachael Bell, a color and materials designer for Microsoft Devices, described the differences between the regular Surface 4 Type Cover and its more luxurious twin.
"Each Signature Type Cover takes five weeks to produce, as the material is extruded and crimped, needle-punched and dyed," she stated. "The final product blends Italian luxury, a Finnish minimalistic design aesthetic and durability that helps it improve with age, like a good leather jacket."
No two Signature Type Covers are the same, given the variations in the suede-like, two-tone gray material, said Bell. And over time, the material darkens, further separating it from the Surface accessories pack.
Another difference is the accessory's price tag. Compared to the standard Surface Pro 4 Type Cover, the Signature edition commands a $30 premium ($159.99 versus $129.99). The Signature version weighs slightly less at 0.63 lbs. versus 0.68 lbs. Otherwise, the device is functionally identical to the standard Type Cover. It features the same trackpad, built-in accelerometer, magnetic latching system, backlit mechanical keys and a smattering of dedicated buttons for media controls, screen brightness and Windows shortcuts.
The Signature Type Cover is available now at select retailers and Microsoft stores (online and brick and mortar) in the United States, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
While the Microsoft brand may not be synonymous with luxury goods, the company is no stranger to pricey hardware.
Gunning for the MacBook Pro, Microsoft launched its Surface Book 2-in-1 hybrid laptop last fall. Though prices start at $1,499, a top-of-the-line configuration with an Intel Core i7 processor, 1TB of storage and a 16GB discrete GPU costs $3,199.
It also takes deep pockets to get one's hands on HoloLens, Microsoft's Windows 10-powered augmented reality headset. The Development Edition of the hardware costs $3,000. By comparison, the recently released Oculus VR headset sells for $599.
Those devices pale in comparison to the massive 84-inch Surface Hub, however.
Designed to replace video conferencing equipment, projectors and speaker phone equipment in meeting rooms, the Surface Hub features built-in cameras, a microphone array, motion sensors, touch-screen and motion sensors. It runs Office, Skype for Business and OneNote, enabling businesses to conduct virtual meetings practically right out of the box. Priced at $21,999 (also available in 55-inch, non-4K version for $8,999), only well-heeled business customers need apply.