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Is four hours enough? Surface Pro has half RT's battery life

Surface

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 30 Nov 2012 at 11:08

Microsoft has said battery life for its Surface with Windows 8 Pro tablet will be half that of the Surface RT - around four and a half hours.

The Windows 8 Pro version of the Microsoft tablets were always expected to have a shorter battery life, as they run more power-hungry chips from Intel rather than the RT models, which run ARM's energy efficient mobile chips.

After the prices for the Surface with Windows 8 Pro were revealed last night, Microsoft revealed just how large the gap would be. The company confirmed the battery life issue in a tweet spotted by ZDNet, with a Microsoft employee saying "Surface Pro will have approximately half the battery life of Surface RT".

In our rolling video battery test the Surface RT lasted for a bit less than nine hours, putting time away from a power point at four and a half hours for the Pro model.

Power struggle

However, with the Surface Pro touted as a high-end business machine, comparisons with the Surface RT are perhaps less relevant than those to the Windows 8 laptops and Apple iPads it will be competing against.

By comparison, the latest iPad lasted almost ten hours in our tests, and although that again is an ARM-based device, the Intel-powered 13in Retina MacBook also approached nine hours in our labs.

Sony's Windows 8 Sony VAIO Duo 11 convertible tablet also clocked up just over seven hours in our light battery test.

Other competitors will be general-purpose Ultrabooks, with many now passing the seven-hour mark. The recently reviewed Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, for example, clocked 7hrs 43min in our light-use test.

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User comments

Fair Comparison?

Is it fair to compare Surface Pro with MacBook?

Surface Pro will cost £600-£700 and the MacBook you refer to costs £1500.

Hardly a fair comparison, there will be plenty of other Windows 8 options at £1500 which will have similar battery life's.

By a_byrne22 on 30 Nov 2012

It's a laptop

It's a laptop with a touch screen. It isn't a tablet.

One of the big intangible benefits of the iPad was the 10 hour battery life which meant you could use it as much as you want all day without ever thinking "where am I going to charge it from". It is like switching to always on internet instead of dial-up.

Without that feature, you are talking about a standard laptop, and I think that this will be a fine one as such. That you can use it like a laptop for a while is also nice.

By MJ2010 on 30 Nov 2012

!(Surface v iPad)

Pretty sure the Surface Pro isn't competing against the iPad; the Surface RT probably is though. Also you can't seriously be saying that an iPad is a "high end business machine"

Anyway, I can't wait to get one and I know many people who are waiting for this. Visual Studio on a tablet device; incredible!

By stephen_d_morris on 30 Nov 2012

@stephen_d_morris hahaha.....

PcPro in ipad "high end business machine" comparison...

hahaha... you can't make this stuff up. Who wrote this rubbish?

By TigerUnleashed on 30 Nov 2012

Be interesting to see how it stacks up when people start getting their hands on them.

For me 4 and a half hours is enough, obviously more would be great but this is going to be a laptop replacement for me.

I'm never sure how PC Pro get so long out of iPads, must have the screen so dark it makes it awful to use...

By Deano on 30 Nov 2012

Comparing with iPad

Stewart Mitchell hang your head in shame!

By AlphaGeeK on 30 Nov 2012

iPad

Out entire board of directors has been issued iPads for catching up with email, reviewing presentations, etc, whilst travelling.

High end? Maybe not. Business machine? Definitely. And therefore perfectly valid to use as a comparison in an article on tablet battery life.

By sprainedmind on 30 Nov 2012

Compare Apples with Apples....erm....

Surface Pro cannot be compared with an ipad - completely different beast. Esentially a laptop with a touchscreen and removeable keyboard. Surface RT and ipad are the ones to compare. That's like comparing a netbook with a high end performance laptop and comparing battery life.

By everton2004 on 30 Nov 2012

@sprainedmind

What you described....

was a smartphone..

By TigerUnleashed on 30 Nov 2012

Competitors

I'd suggest the convertible ultrabooks are its nearest competitors - the Dell XPS 12 is similar, though I think heavier (certainly as a tablet, given its keyboard is attached) and perhaps with better battery life. The Samsung Ativ Pro is presumably the obvious other competitor - very similar, at least in specs, by the looks of it. (£1000, $1200, available now, I think).

By JimmyN on 30 Nov 2012

Short Answer is

No!!

I get longer life than that from my cheapo Win 7 Dell laptop bought from ASDA for less than £300! And it happily runs Visual Studio 2012!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a rabid MS hater like SwissMac, but come on what were they thinking!!

By rjp2000 on 30 Nov 2012

A Sign of the times

That just demonstrates ARM chips power efficiency.
If the whole world would port their applications to ARM then there would not be a need for the Pro version.The only reason the Pro (x86) version exists is because of the software eco system that currently surrounds it.
Just wait till someone creates an X86 emulator layer for Arm.Then watch everything change.
Linux has already made the jump to ARM.

By Jaberwocky on 1 Dec 2012

@Jaberwocky

Except you're conveniently ignoring the fact that there are plenty of x86 based netbooks, laptops and ultrabooks with 8hr+ battery life - so it can be done, if the right 'arms' are twisted ;-)

By rjp2000 on 1 Dec 2012

It's a Windows thing?

Ok, I'm not an Apple or MS fanboy but here is my take on this. Imao, it's the OS, not the hardware. As a long time PC user who nearly went Mac (and probs still), I installed a full, dual boot Windows 7. Running Ableton Live Suite on both, with a heavily loaded demo piece with lots of tracks, played on OSX it ran fine, unlike the fun which was quiet as a mouse. Played back on Win 7, again, it played fine (once it had all loaded up) but that fan? was running flat out and the iMac was now running pretty hot to say the least. I tried this with other media applications with the same result. I'll bet that if you gave a PC to Apple, they could pretty much make it run like a dream with a battery life to impress. I so miss that Mac now ;-) Hardware is fine, it's the software that's the key :)

By Logical15 on 2 Dec 2012

my experience

I have a quad core laptop. It runs hot and is out of juice within about 30 mins - just checking emails and surfing. Given that big companies always exploit our gullibility I would guess the truth is that the Surface pro has about 1-2 hrs of actual battery life. I often wonder if Win 8 has a way to disable cores on the fly because for basic stuff you really dont need more that one care - emails, basic surfing, word processing.

I was going to get a surface but the RT is a large mobile phone and the pro seems knobbled from the start - bad times for microsoft as windows 8 also has a dodgy start being as it is hewn down the middle with Metro not communicating effectively with the desktop apps.

By ZeroZero1 on 2 Dec 2012

my experience

I have a quad core laptop. It runs hot and is out of juice within about 30 mins - just checking emails and surfing. Given that big companies always exploit our gullibility I would guess the truth is that the Surface pro has about 1-2 hrs of actual battery life. I often wonder if Win 8 has a way to disable cores on the fly because for basic stuff you really dont need more that one care - emails, basic surfing, word processing.

I was going to get a surface but the RT is a large mobile phone and the pro seems knobbled from the start - bad times for microsoft as windows 8 also has a dodgy start being as it is hewn down the middle with Metro not communicating effectively with the desktop apps.

By ZeroZero1 on 2 Dec 2012

my experience

I have a quad core laptop. It runs hot and is out of juice within about 30 mins - just checking emails and surfing. Given that big companies always exploit our gullibility I would guess the truth is that the Surface pro has about 1-2 hrs of actual battery life. I often wonder if Win 8 has a way to disable cores on the fly because for basic stuff you really dont need more that one care - emails, basic surfing, word processing.

I was going to get a surface but the RT is a large mobile phone and the pro seems knobbled from the start - bad times for microsoft as windows 8 also has a dodgy start being as it is hewn down the middle with Metro not communicating effectively with the desktop apps.

By ZeroZero1 on 2 Dec 2012

iPad Battery life...

...I took my fully charged iPad to work one day thinking it would see out the day but it ran out of juice by lunchtime!!!

By woolie9 on 2 Dec 2012

Ipad battery life

What are you doing to sap the battery? I can do a full day at work doing general office things and still have half of the battery left. You must be playing too much Fifa at lunchtime...

By JGray on 3 Dec 2012

lunchtime??

I have been using an iPad at work for over a year and I always have around 50% battery life left. I have never known anyone to get through an iPad battery that quick. It plays video for 6 hours non stop so what can you do at work that is more intensive than video?

By TimoGunt on 3 Dec 2012

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