UPDATE: This was one of our earliest posts, but the content still applies so we thought we'd move it up for the benefit of our newer readers. We would just add a low-cost external DVD drive and replacement stylus to the list of must-have accessories.
Besides 20-20 eyesight to be able to read the teeny text and icons in Photoshop or 3DS Max, there are a couple of must-haves that you'll definitely want in order to make the creative experience on your tablet as productive as possible.
Whether you bought the 64- or 128-GB Surface Pro, you'll soon be bumping up against a sad fact: graphics programs are huge. Minus any sample files or content, Windows 8 and the programs I've installed thus far (see What Runs and What Doesn't post for the list) are eating up 60 GB of storage space.
With its handy USB port, you can attach an external drive or flash drive to the Surface Pro, but having devices hung off of the tablet is rather awkward and potentially hazardous to your data.
Therefore, your first must-have peripheral is a capacious microSDXC card on which to store your creations. MicroSDXC is the latest generation of the SD family of memory cards. They feature extended storage capacity of over 32GB up to 2 TB. The SanDisk Ultra 64 GB card is available at Amazon for just under $60. For more information on the care and use of a MicroSDXC, check out the SD Association's write-up.
The second must-have may not be so obvious when your first start using your Surface Pro or if you stick to Windows 8 Modern style apps. But if you want to do any serious work in desktop mode, you'll be howling for this peripheral right away.
In its infinite wisdom, Microsoft decided to ship both RT and Pro tablets without a keyboard cover, even though it could be argued that this is its single-most distinguishing feature.
Now, I'm going to assume that you thought you had rectified the situation by buying either a touch- or type cover (Pretty much everyone recommends the latter; unfortunately I bought the former with my RT tablet. The touch cover requires a learning curve to use and I find I make a significant number of typing errors as I use it. But it gets the job done--eventually.)
If you use your Surface Pro as a laptop with the keyboard cover attached, you may never notice the problem, although you will face a challenge using the pen for more than doodling.
Using the tablet as a sketchbook requires detaching the keyboard, but in desktop mode, Windows 8 doesn't automatically pop up a screen equivalent when you need it. You need to go down to your notifications to have the keyboard pop up and when it does it obscures half of your work area.
Of the graphics tools available to date, only Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage 4 offer pen-friendly interfaces that require minimal use of pull-down menus and keyboard input. For everything else I've tried, not having a keyboard available has been an absolute productivity killer.
Fortunately, the solution is simple and you may already own one. By pairing a wireless Bluetooth keyboard to your Surface Pro, you can cradle your tablet to your heart's content and keep your keyboard shortcuts easily within reach.
I have the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad and it works perfectly with the Surface Pro. It took a bit of effort to get the tablet's bluetooth chip into pairing mode, but once I did, there have been no further hiccups. For $30 less, Logitech sells the Tablet Keyboard for Win8/RT and Android. Neither device replaces the Surface's cover, but for as low as half the price, you'll be able to throw in a padded sleeve to protect your screen.