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Microsoft teases extended battery for Surface Pro, more accessories

Surface Pro Lead

The Surface Pro doesn’t go on sale for another three days, but reviews hit the airwaves last night. If want check out this post from earlier today summing up what the web is saying. Or I’ll just spoil it for you – the Surface Pro is a kick ass device that is really only slowed down by battery life.

Wouldn’t that be great if there was an accessory that could help push the device past the 4 ½ hour average? There may be.

Right now Panos Panoy and the Surface Engineering Team are holding an AMA on Reddit. You’ll find the team fielding questions and answers on a variety of topics related to the Surface Pro. Some interesting stuff in there that the Verge picked up on, I’ll highlight two of the biggest.

One complaint among early reviews is the inability to run independent scaling between the Surface Pro and an external monitor. The Surface Pro powers a 1080p display on a 10.6” screen, so most reviewers have set the scaling to 150% to get a better experience. But when they connect to an external monitor, scaling is still at 150% and can’t be put to something independent of the Surface Pro, something more reasonable like 100%. Which is a bit of a letdown seeing as the Surface Pro has the moxie to handle an external monitor all the way up to 2560x1600p!

Don’t fret, a solution may be on the horizon. Responding to the Reddit user, Panoy says that “The Windows team is aggressively working on this feature to fix this for all high resolution Windows devices. We don’t have a date yet to share, so sorry.” While we don’t have a date for a solution, it is nice to know that at some point you’ll be able to set scaling in Windows 8 independently for different displays.

The second biggest complaint (and probably biggest complaint) has been battery life. The Surface Team has promised battery to be half that of Surface RT, and that seems about right. Averaging out all the different reviews on the web will give you about 4 to 5 hours of battery, depending on usage of course. In the AMA, the Surface Team talks about using a smaller battery to achieve a lighter weight and smaller physical device size. So any hope for longer battery life with the Surface Pro? Probably, maybe, yes?  

One eagle-eyed Redditor asked about the new connectors on the bottom of the Surface Pro. Panoy was enthusiast and sly in his reply:

“Wow - I'm pumped you caught that - we haven't announced what they are for but they aren't an accident! At launch we talked about the "accessory spine" and hinted at future peripherals that can click in and do more. Those connectors look like can carry more current than the pogo pins, don't they?”

Look around the rest of the AMA and you’ll find a user asking if Microsoft has plans for an external battery or thicker keyboard cover that has an external battery inside. And Panoy responded with:

“That would require extending the design of the accessory spine to include some way to transfer higher current between the peripheral and the main battery. Which we did...”

While he and the Surface Team don’t come right out and say, it is really hard to not see a Type or Touch Cover in the future that has an extra battery in it. That could help alleviate most complaints of battery life and put potential buyers in a better position if they’re considering picking up the Surface Pro this Friday.

Take that as you will, but I choose to believe we’ll see an accessory in the near future that gives you a few more hours of use out of your Surface Pro.

Don’t forget to hit up the AMA on Reddit.

Source: Reddit AMA, Display, Battery 1, Battery 2, Via: The Verge



There are 53 comments. Sign in to comment

I'm a savin' mah pennies!

Coan says:

I was, but sadly I'm Canadian, so i'm kinda stalled until I make trips across the border...

Nataku4ca says:

or ontario or bc :)

FFugue says:

In Canada the Surface tablets will be available in Future Shop, Best Buy and Staples. And you can always order it online on the Microsoft site. But I'm not sure they'll have it in stores for the 9th. I asked a couple of stores today and they don't even know when they'll have the RT version... But it's coming!

Racxie says:

This is good and all and I'm glad if there'll be options, but it's a shame that they didn't include some of these from the beginning rather than making customers part with even more of their cash.

mister2d says:

I agree with you. I was dead set on the Pro after having the RT (and loving it). But now I just can't part with the amount of cash knowing that the battery life is that terrible. And now, possibly MORE cash to extend the battery life?

I looked at other competing options and they don't have the same value as this Surface.

What I've decided to do is just wait to see if Nokia announces anything later this month. Elop has said they are watching how the Surface is panning out.

Andygoes says:

Theoretically, they could release another keyboard dock with an actual hinge in it. That would shut the naysayers about lap-top use up. Ideally it would offer additional battery life like the ASUS Transformer series (and others).

dharmababa says:

Bingo. The Thinkpad Helix is also going to get 10 hours with that setup. Downside is 3.7 lb weight.

CJ Thunder says:

I made a thread about this idea in this forum! The Surface Book Cover.

stephen_az says:

Congratulations on winning the wishful thinking award for the day. i seriously doubt Microsoft would keep a secret the one thing that would kill the negative press. These are teases to keep people interested but should not be taken to suggest anything else is on the horizon. It is an old marketing ploy and not much more. Letting R&D people talk will always get you the "maybe someday" ponderings that generate interest but most amount to nothing.

Sam Sabri says:

How is it wishful thinking? Did you read the post? It came from Microsoft themself and isn't hard to project what they are hinting at. They just have nothing to announce right now.

pedenske says:

then why can you see the metal contacts in the "accessory spine" in the pictures of their review

pedenske says:

then why can you see the metal contacts in the "accessory spine" in the pictures of their review

mythos13 says:

I pretty much ruled out the Surface Pro after reading the reviews of its terrible battery but a type cover with more juice could put it back in play. I hope Noka shows their hand at MWC later this month as well as they are also rumoured to have keyboard with extra battery power.

Jomon says:

Hmmm. While at the MS store yesterday fondling the PRO, the clerk did tell me to wait this Friday for new accessories announcment. Keeps fingers crossed.

dkp23 says:

I wish somebody asked if it ever be possible to have your media in sdcard recognize in libraries and apps as if on the internal drive.

sundawg#WP says:


Isror says:

Couldn't this be tested with a laptop running Win8Pro? Same OS, and I can't imagine them making hardware changes that drastic for the surface to limit SD cards...I'll try tonight if I get a chance.

arrow22 says:

This one is promising as well: "Hey, Ralf here. I use Solid Works and other CAD software on my Pro. I basically walk up to my monitor and plug the mini display port cable into my device and go to work. Surface is meant to be a super mobile note pad style tablet so we basically built our dock right into the product. Today you can attach different keyboards and find your style of color and typing, but this is not where it will stop. If you look at the Surface Pro connector you will notice additional contacts that provide opportunity for more cool things to attach."

For the price, the PRO is not worth it, unless you have money to blow. The year just started I expect many comparable convertibles like the Surface Pro will come out that will be on par for price.

texantony says:

Maybe you could help me out then. What do you suggest as an alternative? One that has a 128GB SSD, detachable keyboard, touch screen display, pen stylus, and a stand? Acts as both a tablet and laptop, and under $1000?

mlcooper54 says:

Don't forget the 4 GB RAM and USB 3.0

Like I said the year just started so there will be some that come out. In the forums some have said the Acer w700 and the Helix are pretty good.

Sam Sabri says:

With that logic something *better* is probably always around the corner... Buy the device for you today. 

VagrantWade says:

Acer W700 is Acer, and the Helix costs way more.

VikArmo says:

If it's on par with the Pro then I rather get the Pro!

henilp89 says:

dude are you for real? you cant be serious.. how is this a good deal? endaget.. the verge.. WSJ n others.. they all had more cons than pros.. its not only the battery life.. ITS FREAKING EXPENSIVE! $899 without that keyboard n ONLY 23GB usable storage! are you kidding me lol plus we gotta pay the tax! why any wouldnt just get a macbook air or any other ultrabook! i bet your smoking something! even though i luv microsoft (n thats the only reason i hate apple) but i rather get air (64GB storage) i5.. better built quality better battery life thiner n i can actually put it on my lap n USE IT!

texantony says:

Actually, the 128gb version is right there with MacBook air, plus it's touch screen and after you delete the backup partition and a few other tweaks, you should have close to 100GB of space. I don't think people will buy a Surface Pro to watch movies only, so the battery will probably be around 5 to 6 hours.

theefman says:

What makes you think the air is better built? Have you actually seen a Surface Pro up close? It screams quality but maybe you'd be better off with something better but cheaper. And frankly the reviews of apple sites don't matter to me, I went to a store to see it and its quality. And basically some of us can afford it and prefer its portability so its ideal. Enjoy your air.

henilp89 says:

yes i have.. its made out of high quality plastic lol but have you seen macbook air dude? 

Dare2Blink says:

Obviously you havent actually touched a surface... Its not plastic is vapor mag (magnisium). Much higher quality than plastic

ymcpa says:

The surface uses vaporized magnesium not plastic. It's very tough and scratch resistant. You won't find a single review that says the hardware isn't quality. They main complaints is the battery and size. I have seen the air. Made from aluminum and easily broken. Better handle it with kit gloves.

Cleavitt76 says:

You are comparing apples to oranges.  Try to think outside of the established box.  A MacBook Air or standard ultrabook does not work as a tablet.  Surface Pro is a hybrid device.  It is part ultrabook and part tablet.  If a person strictly needs an ultrabook then they should probably buy an ultrabook.  If they strictly need a tablet, they should probably buy a tablet.
Surface Pro is more comparable to buying a MacBook Air *AND* an iPad.  Compared to that, it's way less expensive, way more portable (one device instead of two), and much more seemless in use (no need to sync/update two devices, switch devices for different tasks, or use two different OS/apps).  Of course the Surface Pro form factor has compromises, but how is that any different from any other form factor?  A MacBook Air is less portable than an iPad, but it's also more capable for productivity tasks.  Same with phones, tablets, notebooks, and desktops.  Each form factor has pros and cons.
Surface Pro may not be for everyone, but I think it will have a market.  Surface Pro also showcases the potential of Windows 8 as a single OS that can run both keyboard/mouse and touch optimized apps on any hardware from a desktop, notebook, tablet, and anything in between.  Nobody else can do this right now.  Think about that for a moment.  If Apple built a Suface Pro style notebook/table hybrid, which OS would it run?  Neither OSX or iOS is a good answer.
Only time will tell if Surface Pro and other hybrid devices are going to be popular, but if they are, things look great for MS and bad for the competition. 

henilp89 says:

but the thing is (n im not talking about just me) if anyones gonna spend $1000 on a tablet/ultrabook/notebook in this tough economy.. they just wont buy surface pro! its too expensive cuz there arent any pros that worths that much money.. and trust me this is the reason why they didnt sell that many surface RT and please write down my email.. email me (PM) when those sales figrures come out.. they are gonna look ugly just RTs. There just wont be many whos gonna go for this combination for this PRICE!

The Surface Pro like the Ativ-S Pro are fantastic deals if you consider that they replace an ultrabook and a iPad in one go. Just think of the money and time and you gain from not having to maintain an iPad and all its accesories. You get a real PC and a tablet... No need for an ultrabook and ARM tablet. All you need is one hybrid. If you add a nice external screen you can even replace your desktop with it. Le us be honest, most people don't play graphics heavy games, they need email, MS Office, iTunes Desktop also they need their hours off to do other things than to maintain an army of devices. Here they can do with one hybrid and smartphone a screen and an external drive...
I am typing from my Ativ-S, next to me is my iMac (runs W7Pro)... Why am I using my Ativ-S more... It just serves more needs. I can type with keyboard or do lots of things in tablet mode... I simply find more uses and places to use it.
The thing is... once you have one... you forget about your iPad (have one for child) because you can do so much more with a hybrid device.
To me it seems like the press did not understand that the Surface Pro is not a tablet, but a PC in tablet format that is very capable and serves many needs... the first ULTRA Tablet PC...


henilp89 says:

but again.. im spending this much money! a normal person wont go for surface pro (cuz of its price point!) n battery life is very important for me! 

Cleavitt76 says:

You talk about the price as being too high for a "normal person", but the Surface Pro is similar in price to a quality ultrabook which you keep saying is a better deal.  The really high end ultrabooks go for close to $2000.  $1000 is about average for an ultrabook.  Again, if someone is strictly interested in an ultrabook then they should buy an ultrabook.  If someone is also interested in a tablet, wacom pen, and touchscreen laptop then an ultrabook is not going to fill those needs regardless of how much YOU think an ultrabook is better for YOU.  In this tough economy people are already buying both $1200 MacBook Airs AND $500 iPads.  I know two people that bought iPad minis even though they already had normal iPads and iPhones.  Why is it hard to believe that some people might choose to substitute $1700 dollars in Apple products for an $1100 Surface Pro that, for some people, does the job of both (while running full Windows which makes it way more useful for business).  If anything, the tough economy might actually drive people towards a hybrid device like the Surface Pro.
The things that you see as deal breakers are a non-issue to some other people because of their usage patterns.  For example, I don't mind the "limited battery life" for two reasons.  First, I don't plan on being in front of any portable device for more than a couple hours at a time.  Anything longer than that can wait until I'm at my quad core dual monitor desktop.  Secondly, 5 hours isn't that bad in my opinion anyway.  My current laptop (5 years old) only lasts for a few hours on battery and that hasn't been a big deal for me.  5 Hours of battery life only seems bad when you compare it to tablets that don't do anything useful (i.e. work/productivity apps) or ultrabooks that are much larger and less portable than a Surface Pro.
Surface RT sales has almost no bearing on Surface Pro.  If Surface RT sales are weak, it's simply because Windows RT is still too limited at this point by apps support.  App support will improve with time.   

ymcpa says:

You're not in the market for any ultraportables because they are all in this price range. Any thin light weight laptop with a high res touchscreen is well over $1000. The surface pro more flexible since you can use it as a tablet and to take notes or draw. Its keyboard isn't as good as a laptop. So, you have that compromise. The battery life is a bigger issue and MS has to do something about that. So, basically, if you need a laptop and don't have any need for a tablet mode, don't get a surface. If you just need a tablet and don't need any productivity or legacy app support, don't get a surface. If you switch back and forth between the two, the surface is the best choice. You make some compromises, but you do get the best of both worlds in one package. I think there are many people who still use both a laptop and a tablet. You are right about not many people will be buying $1000 devices in this economy. That is also why the ultaportables are not selling that well weither.

Like Samsung did it for the Ativ-S Pro, MS will make a docking station keyboard available, but one with build in battery.

ymcpa says:

The build quality isn't any better. The surdafe pro has a better screen. The the air doesn't give you a full 64 GB either (although they give more space than the pro). You get a wacom digitizer. So, you can take notes and draw. The macbook air is actually thicker (.68 in vs .53 in). The air is only thinner at the edges to give the illusion that it is super thin. Pro weighs 2 lbs and the air wieghs 2.38 lbs. You can put the air on your lap. You can put the surface on your lap too but it is more difficult to use like that than the air and the angle isn't adjustable. However, with the surface I can also pick it up like a tablet and use the touch screen. The air doesn't have a touchsceen. So, the only real benefit the air has over the surface is the battery and it's easier to use on your lap. Since I rarely use a laptop on my lap and in those situation I would prefer the tablet mode anyway, that is not an issue for me. The battery life however might be a deal breaker. If they can add battery life without increase the cost or weight alot, I would buy the surface pro over the air.

VagrantWade says:

Do not feed the troll.

jholso says:

This, and the fact that my tax return id due to be deposited Friday confirms I will be buying one on Saturday! I'm glad they decided to think far enough ahead to include the extra high capacity connectors! 

rsuter says:

Win8 needs the ability to set the scale per screen.. This should have been there in the first place.. And why ist the scale 150 and 200% and not 140 and 180% like in the metro ui?!

Sam Sabri says:

What percentage you decide to scale with depends on the resolution and physical size of the display.

ShavedMonkey says:

I think the Win8 Intel Atom based tablets are a geat balance at the moment until Surface2.
I am running a VivoTab Smart Win8 tablet and it is great - get ALL the benefits of SurfaceRT (i.e. size, weight, and 9+ hour battery life) plus the ability to run all x86 Windows applications (and it is much more powerful than Tegra3, iPad4 etc)!  
The only consideration is if you run high end games etc (this is not a gaming rig).  I run full Office 2013, VLC (upto 1080p), games, metro Apps/Games, Web, plenty of desktop apps etc with no issues.  Boots in around 5 seconds!  (and can be picked up for under $490)
To me this should have been the Microsoft RT (lower end) model released (i.e. small, light, matched battery life, more powerful, full x86 compatibility, same/lower price).  Just doesnt make sense . . . .

gmfeld says:

How do you connect this to the Internet if you have no or lousy WI-fi service?

Dare2Blink says:

Get a usb dongle or tether your phone

TechnoTim says:

Battery type covers are coming, now you can buy a 300 dollar keyboard.

weetigo says:

@SamSabri: One other thing that is getting missed is that the final production units have 6-7 additional GB of space vs initial estimates of 23gb/83gb.  Plus there's another ~10gb in savings from taking other measures like deleting some trial apps, backing up and then deleting the recovery partition, and adjusting the page file size.

Sam Sabri says:

Thanks weetigo. We'll be sure to highlight this is we're able to get our hands on one for a review. 

DJCBS says:

LOL Basically they were not counting on having to release this but the reviews on the Surface Pro are so negative with the battery at the top of them, that Microsoft had no choice but to start thinking about solutions that would save the Surface venture from the complete disaster it already is...Shame.

Cleavitt76 says:

I like how you state all of your random thoughts as facts.  You must have missed the part about...
“That would require extending the design of the accessory spine to include some way to transfer higher current between the peripheral and the main battery.  Which we did...”
So yeah, it wasn't planned at all, but the hardware just happens to be designed to support it.  That is awfully lucky for MS who, according to you, is just now "starting to think about solutions."

Skunkwurx says:

It could be a dock?