Surface Pro, Day 23: Battery life

30 Days with Surface Pro: Day 23

Since Microsoft first made review units of the Surface Pro available to media outlets, and on through the launch of the tablet to the general public, one of the chief complaints has been about its mediocre battery life. Day 23 of the 30 Days with Surface Pro series runs the Surface Pro through some tests to see how the battery life holds up.

The great thing about the Surface Pro is that it’s part tablet, part PC, or–more specifically–part ultrabook.

According to one source, the average battery life for a tablet is just over nine hours. Laptop Magazine puts the average closer to seven hours, but reports the iPad 4 clocking in at over 12 hours. Impressive.

Ultrabooks, on the other hand, tend to be much more energy efficient than their traditional laptop cousins, but not on the same playing field as tablets. You can expect an ultrabook to last anywhere from three to six, or possibly seven hours. There are a number of variables in terms of display size, battery size, type of hard drive, and processor used which impact the battery life.

A Surface Pro is a PC in a tablet form factor. As such, it’s a great mesh of the two, but can’t claim to be the best at either role. Although it’s exterior says it’s a tablet, the battery life of the Surface Pro betrays it as a PC-in-tablet-clothing.

The Surface Pro has only half the battery life of its Surface RT sibling. At around five hours, though, it is quite respectable by ultrabook standards, and beats out most laptops. It won’t get you through an entire work day without a recharge, but it certainly has enough juice to give you the freedom to roam.

I spent most of the day using the Surface Pro unplugged, and it wasn’t until the end of the work day that I got an alert about low battery life. After recharging it over dinner, I’ve been watching Top Gun on Netflix while working on this post, and after more than an hour the battery meter has barely changed. It certainly seems to be holding up admirably.

One other interesting note about power–not related to battery life–is that the brick on the power cord adapter has a USB charging port. It seems a little odd to me, and I’m not sure what use case prompted Microsoft to even think of such a thing, but it’s there if you need it. In my case, the power cord is tucked away behind and under my desk, so the USB charging port isn’t exactly easy access.

Ultimately, I’d say from my experience that the Surface Pro battery life is solid in spite of all the negative press. It can’t match the battery life of the iPad, but the iPad can’t run Windows software and doesn’t have Microsoft Office (at least not yet).

If the Surface Pro battery life is a concern for you, though, you might be interested in speculation that Microsoft may develop a keyboard cover that packs a little extra juice.

Day 22: The pen is mightier than the finger
Day 24: BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

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