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Microsoft Surface review: Stunning hardware, but apps are sparse

Microsoft's new Surface tablet kicks off its Windows 8 push -- the biggest risk Microsoft has taken in decades. BGR executive editor Zach Epstein put it to the test.

The brilliant $120 Touch Cover

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Microsoft's first TV commercial for the Surface focuses almost entirely on the Touch Cover, and for good reason: It's brilliant.

The 3-millimeters-thick polyurethane cover is held in place magnetically and features a soft-touch keyboard with a trackpad. It's the perfect compromise between a traditional tablet-typing experience (tapping on glass) and typing on a standard keyboard.

Thanks to its 10.6-inch display, the Surface is just wide enough to support a cover with a full-size keyboard. That's not a coincidence. Snap on the ultra-thin, feather-light keyboard and the Surface instantly becomes one of the best tablets on the planet for productivity.

There's a learning curve. Here's what happened the first time I sat down with the Surface and pecked away on the Touch Cover:

I am typing on the Microsoft Surface's Touch Cover. I'm actually doing just as well here ss I would on a normsl keyboard. Not really, but it'spretty close. Ok, not really. For wjatever reason, I find myself missingthe "A" a lot. It's prettyannoying.

It took a few days, but I got used to the $120 accessory and can now type much more quickly on the Touch Cover than on any glass tablet display.

For those who prefer a more traditional typing experience, $130 gets you a Type Cover, which transforms the Surface into a legitimate notebook computer. It's a little more than twice as thick as the Touch Cover, but it includes a full-size plastic keyboard. The cover itself has a soft-touch rubber feel on the top, and the bottom is a nice gray felt material.

And yes, the covers click into place with a little "snick" sound, just like they do in Microsoft's commercial.

- Last updated October 23 2012 10:35 PM ET