Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer says Microsoft’s new Surface tablets may not match Apple’s iPad on battery life, according to estimates made by Computerworld based on comparable devices. In its Monday Surface announcement, Microsoft revealed the watt-hour (Wh) capacity of device’s batteries, but made no undertaking as to projected charge runtime – a critical attribute for tablet computing.
Keizer makes some deductive calculations based on what’s known, with Microsoft having revealed that the ARM processor based Windows RT Surface will have a 31.4Wh rating, while the Ivy Bridge powered Core i Windows 8 Pro Surface is rated at 42Wh – essentially the same as the new iPad’s 42.5Wh battery that Apple claims lasts 10 hours while browsing the Web, watching video or listening to music. Of course, the iPad battery has to contend with the Retina display’s prodigious power demand, while the non-Retina Pro Surface has the powerful but power-hungry Core i CPU to feed.
It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the real world.
Keizer also cites iFixIt CEO Kyle Wiens observing that a concatenation of factors will affect battery life for the Surface and Surface Pro, including how successful Microsoft is at integrating power management features; how many cores the processors have and how well those cores are managed; the screen resolution; how many applications can run simultaneously; and how Windows RT and Windows 8 handle power consumption by those active apps.
Wiens also hopefully observes that based on Surface design drawings Microsoft has published, showing standard Torx screws fastening the case, the Surface may be easier to get into than the iPad or Apple’s new Retina MacBook Pro which he’s declared “the least-repairable laptop we’ve taken apart.” He suggests that battery replacement by the user may even be possible. “Let’s hope Microsoft will be better at letting users repair or upgrade their own devices,” Wiens tells Keizer.
It’s a hope shared by many of us who are unenchanted by Apple’s trend toward sealed or near-sealed devices, and could prove a tipping point for folks like me who bridle at spending hundreds of dollars on a device like the iPad with a battery that is essentially non-replacable in practical terms. I like my iPad 2 a lot, but when the time comes to replace it in a year or so, I’m going to be giving the Surface some serious consideration, and the ability to get inside it for service and repairs will definitely help tilt the scales in its direction.
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