The surface renderer allow to display triangulated geometries (so anything with a surface).
It contain every component you are used to :
-Diffuse : Emitted light from the object
-Specular : Add this reflection effect. This can be combined with emitted specular from Light
-Bump : Displace object normals with a black and white map to generate false 3d with Light
-Normal : Use a rgb map to displace object normals (much effective than bump). Use Light
angle between object and camera to generate false 3D.
-Env-map : Use a spherical or Cylindrical map to fake reflections and refractions
-Vertex color info : Debug your object normals issues
-Alpha : In the title. Better use 3D Mask
to do this effect
-Checkerboard : A 3D checkerboard