Review unit provided by Renaisser
The keyboard Microsoft should have made years ago
Renaisser, the company known for making digital styluses, has finally made a wireless Bluetooth keyboard cover for the Surface Pro 8. There are other companies that make such keyboards but Renaisser's Pelican K8 keyboard cover is the only one that looks and feels almost similar to the Microsoft Surface Pro Signature Keyboard.
This is a product I'm sure digital artists working on the SP8 will appreciate.As an artist who draws on a tablet, I prefer to have the keyboard by the side rather than in front of the tablet while drawing.
The price of the Renaisser Pelican K8 wireless keyboard is US $79.99. By the way, the price of the Microsoft Surface Pro Signature Keyboard is US $179.99. Thankfully I bought my Surface Pro 8 with the keyboard cover bundled and did not have to buy the overpriced keyboard. So Renaisser selling the keyboard under US $100 is a pretty good deal.
These are the items included in the box:
- Keyboard cover
- Short USB-C to USB-C cable
- Long USB-C to USB-A cable
- Quick start guide
- 3x replacement nibs
- Fridge magnet
The pen shown in the photo above is not included.
The pens that can fit into the pen slot on the Pelican K8 are the Renaisser Raphael 520/520C/530 styluses. That pen slot does not fit the Surface Slim Pen or Slim Pen 2.
The company has also sent me a Raphael 530 stylus (US $39.99) which is compatible with the Microsoft Surface tablets. This pen uses Microsoft Pen Protocol 2 (MPP 2.0) and supports 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt. There's one side button and and eraser at the back. FYI, the Microsoft Slim Pen 2 is priced at US $129.
I'll review the Raphael 530 in another review. As I can say now is the Microsoft Slim Pen 2 can draw diagonal lines straighter.
If you get the keyboard cover and pen from Renaisser, that's a total of US $120 instead of the US $310 if you go with the Microsoft accessories.
The look and feel of the Pelican K8 keyboard cover is very similar to the Microsoft keyboard cover. Layout of the keys and shortcuts are similar. Physical dimension is made to fit the Surface Pro 8 perfectly.
Microsoft uses alcantara material for the keyboard while Renaisser uses "stainproof micro fabric" material.
Overall build quality is good.
It's difficult to differentiate Microsoft and Renaisser keyboard covers unless you know the differences to look for.
Main selling point of the keyboard is the Bluetooth wireless connection. The wireless keyboard can be used when detached from the tablet so you can place the keyboard anywhere you like instead of at the front of the tablet.
Battery life is said to last up to 200 hours with the backlight disabled. If you use the keyboard 6 hours daily, that's 30+ days of battery life. A full charge takes 3.5 hours.
While you can tilt the keyboard at an angle, there are actually no magnets to snap to the tablet. The keyboard is relying on how it's folded for the tilt.
When the keyboard is flat, it's not completely flat but thankfully it doesn't wobble when typing.
Typing experience is good for a keyboard cover. The keys are well spaced, have good travel and feedback. Compared to the Microsoft keyboard cover, the Pelican K8 keys are slightly bigger and spaced closer to one another. Also, the Shift, Enter, \ and Backspace buttons are slightly less wide. I don't have any issues with typing accuracy though.
Surface of the keys are smoother and less susceptible to fingerprints. The keys on the Microsoft keyboard cover are extremely susceptible to fingerprints and that's one major gribe I have.
Downsides or quirks
There's an area at the bottom middle of the touchpad where you cannot press down. It's as if the touchpad has areas separated for left and right click which is unnecessary because you already can right-click with two fingers. This means sometimes it's impossible to click and drag (e.g. adjusting slider values) because you cannot press down the bottom middle of the touchpad.
There's no power switch for the keyboard cover. As with Bluetooth devices, there can be Bluetooth interference at times, rare as it may be, it would be good to be able to power off and on the keyboard again. The alternative is to turn on/off Bluetooth with Windows settings.
While the battery life is good (200 hours without back light), the keyboard cannot be used when there's no battery life even when physically connected to the Surface Pro 8 because there are no keyboard connectors.
The Renaisser Pelican K8 and Raphael 530 stylus are wonderful alternatives at more reasonable prices compared to the Surface keyboard cover and Slim Pen 2. It's almost a no brainer to choose Renaisser over Microsoft's overpriced accessories.