Considering the time, effort, and money that go into device build and design, it seems a shame that we often cover it all up with a protective case. And it’s a double shame when the protection the cover offers is unwarranted.
Some on the TabletPCReview team feel this way in regards to any Microsoft Surface cover. The Surface hardware has been some of the best in the consumer tech industry. Every model has looked great and held up well; and the well-traveled Surface 2 we had kicking around the office still looked like new after almost two years of use and abuse.
Could this also be the case with the Microsoft Surface 3? It’s thinner and lighter than its predecessors, so maybe it could use a little extra padding to mitigate the effects of drops and dings. Let’s find out.
The case in question is the Trident Cyclops Series for Surface 3. Trident has long made protective cases for mobile devices, often consisting of multiple pieces that snap together. They’ve typically been well received, and have provided substantial protection along with a hard-edged aesthetic, often with neon accents, reminiscent of the original Motorola Droid branding.
The Surface 3 case comes in three pieces, and is compatible with the Surface kickstand and Type Cover. It is available in white with gray accents or black for $79.99.
Trident claims the case has been tested to meet military standard drop protection (810G), which means a Surface 3 outfitted in a Trident Cyclops case survived drops of four feet onto two-inches of plywood over concrete on its various sides and edges. That’s easy to believe, given the case’s tough plastic build and rubberized corners.
The case also features rubberized port flaps that are easily opened, as well as rubberized “buttons” for the Surface 3 power button and volume rocker that are responsive enough. There are also rubber hinges that enable the kickstand functionality. The Cyclops case has cutouts in all the appropriate places for the cameras, speakers, and Windows button, as well as just enough uncovered screen bezel for Windows 8.1 swipe actions.
The Cyclops case essentially has two modes. All three pieces attach for the “tablet” mode, which covers the magnetic Type Cover receptacle and keeps the kickstand locked shut. This also denies access to the microSD card slot. Remove the bottom-edge cover to attach a Type Cover and access the kickstand. Two small metal squares enable the Type Cover’s partial slope.
The Type Cover will lie flush and physically cover the display when closed, but the case covers the magnetic elements, meaning the Type Cover won’t lock in closed and won’t turn off the display.
That minor inconvenience is the tradeoff for protection, it seems. And Kudos to Trident for making a case with two “modes,” besides, because there’s no question the case adds a significant level of protection, perhaps more so than the added bulk and weight suggest (about half a pound). Too bad it’s ugly, and its design elements clash with the understated Surface 3. Trident, we get it, you make tough cases. You don’t need to embellish them with faux-industrial flourishes. It’s tacky.
And like we said in the beginning, for most Surface 3 users, it’s probably unnecessary. The Surface 3 is no iPad Air. It can easily withstand the shake and bake of daily use and still look like new more than a year later. It can also take a punch or two. Those that still want the reassurance a case offers can easily find something cheaper than $79.99. And those working with Surface 3s in industrial settings or in the field will probably want something that also offers dust and water resistance, which the Cyclops case does not.