Blog Post

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

Microsoft(s msft) 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(s armh) Nvidia(s nvda) Tegra 3 while the full-featured Surface Pro uses an Intel(s intc) 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.

6 Responses to “Mobile mess: Surface Pro has bigger battery, half run time of Surface RT”

  1. I asked Microsoft via Surface’s facebook page whether or not the Surface Pro will have a removable battery, and they confirmed that it will not. I have a feeling this will become a hot topic within the coming few months. As far as battery life goes, what you see is what you get, there are no additional batteries. I was hoping to get one for school, but is needing to sit beside an outlet during every lecture very practical? Sure, if I’ve got some time I could rush to an outlet and try and charge it between my 2 hour lectures, but what if I’ve got 2 lectures back to back? Or even 3? (Which is not uncommon at all) Worrying about that moment when my tablet shuts down and leaves me screwed is a stress I’m not sure I want to worry about… Not sure RT is right for me either… Oh well!

  2. Surface Pro will be an enthusiast device, I say that because I have used a Cloverfield tablet for the past month and am quite impressed with how windows runs on it and the battery life. The Haswell Atom cpu will be out next year and they will run even better so I can see the ivy bridge units being phased out, or being relegated to enthusiasts or those who truly need the power. I threw Office, Photoshop, etc etc at the Cloverfield and it didn’t bat an eye, so I’m wondering who truly will buy the surface. I would have MUCH preferred the surface pro had a cloverfield CPU, was thinner and lighter and cost $200 less.

  3. Although Windows 8 represented 58% of the sales for the past month since launch, the total PC sales declined by 21%. That means that the launch of Windows 8 wasn’t even enough to keep the PC sales stagnant, let alone to give them a boost and see growth.

    I expect things will only be worse after the launch. And Surface Pro is absolutely no competition for the iPad or other Android tablets. Not with that price and that battery life. People may want it as an ultrabook replacement, so it will compete with Macbook Air, with the added “feature” of having touch. But that’s about it. It’s unusable as a tablet with that weight, battery life, thickness, heat and noise.

    The Surface RT was the “real” competitor in the market against the iPad’s and Nexus 10 of the world. Surface Pro is just another ultrabook basically, and the market will treat it accordingly.

  4. Haters gonna hate…

    Have you seen a tablet that would be as versatile as Surface-Pro? Think content consumption and creation… It is going to be my next tablet, and for full disclosure, I am writing this from my MacBook Pro.

  5. If the battery is removable I don’t see it as a problem – just hibernate and swap with a spare. If it’s a built-in battery, however, then this is definitely going to be a deal-breaker for many.

    Still hanging on to my $400 netbook :-)