Mobile mess: Surface Pro has bigger battery, half run time of Surface RT

Surface RT stand

Microsoft announced price and availability details of its Surface Pro tablet with Windows 8 on Thursday but left one key piece of information out of the conversation. The two-pound tablet will get approximately half the battery life of its Surface with Windows RT peer, notes The Verge, even though the Pro version has a higher battery capacity.

Consumers have become accustomed to tablets that offer more battery life than traditional computers, making for an interesting sales showdown for the Surface Pro, which starts at $899. The run-time information was tweeted by  the official Microsoft Surface Twitter account when asked how long the new Surface with Windows 8 Pro would run on a single charge:

That works out to roughly 4.5 hours based on my own usage of a Surface RT device, which generally sees 9 hours of usage on a single charge. And this is on a tablet that’s lighter and about half the price. Surface RT has a 31.5 WHr battery while the new Surface Pro bumps the battery capacity to 42 WHr.

What’s the difference then? It’s all in the chip when you look at the detailed specifications (PDF). Surface RT runs on the ARM-based Nvidia Tegra 3 while the full-featured Surface Pro uses an Intel Core i5 Processor with Intel HD Graphics 4000. So even though the Pro battery has nearly 30 percent more battery capacity, it runs for 50 percent as long. You can put a fresh coat of paint on it, but this is essentially the same old WinTel problem that has nagged mobile devices for years.

Then again is the Surface Pro a mobile device? For most it will be mobile at least part of the time. If not, then why buy it over a standard laptop or desktop? For those planning to be mobile mavens with a full-blown instance of Windows 8 Pro on a Surface tablet, however, you’d better plan to be near an outlet at some point during your day.

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