Battery Life

Surface features an integrated 31 Wh battery, which is larger than what’s in the iPad 2 but smaller than what Apple used for the iPad 3.  Charging duties are handled via a 24W power adapter with a custom magnetic connector.

Of all of the aspects of Surface, the charging connector feels like the least well executed. For starters, the connector is quite long – about twice the length of a MagSafe connector. Secondly, the magnets in the connector aren’t all that strong so the attraction to Surface isn’t very confidence inspiring. The third issue is alignment. Because of the 22-degree beveled edge on Surface, you have to approach mating the power connector to the tablet very carefully. More often than not I’d have the connector match up but not fully connect. It usually required a few minor adjustments to get the connector to actually start charging. My final complaint is about the power indicator LED on the connector itself. The LED only glows white and gives no indication of whether or not the device is done charging. Furthermore, it doesn’t even glow all that bright, making it hard to tell in daylight whether the device is even getting power. I’m pleased with virtually all aspects of Surface’s physical design, but the charging port and connector need to be redone for the next generation.

The power adapter itself is larger than the 10 – 15W units you get with most tablets in this price range, but it is also a considerably larger power supply. You can take Surface from completely empty to fully charged in a little over 3 hours hours. You can also get Surface up to 50% power, while using the device, after just over an hour of being plugged in. Microsoft wanted to prioritize real world productivity scenarios where you had a limited amount of time to charge but also needed to use the device. The larger power adapter and not gigantic battery were the right balance to meet those needs.

The power brick features a Windows RT logo, but is otherwise clean. The surface of the adapter is a nice soft touch plastic. The two prongs for US models stow away neatly in the adapter. The power cable is nice and long at around 1.5m. There’s no built in cable management other than a little U to keep the connector attached to the end of the cable.

To measure battery life I put Surface through our 2012 tablet battery life suite. All tests were run with the display calibrated to 200 nits and with Surface, its Touch Cover was attached.

Overall battery life is pretty competitive with the iPad. In lighter use cases Apple pulls ahead slightly, but if you look at our updated web browsing test the heavier CPU load pushes Surface ahead of the third gen iPad. It’s not clear how the 4th gen iPad would stack up in this comparison.

Video playback is also decent for Surface, although Apple manages to pull ahead with the win there as well. The bigger accomplishment is that we’re seeing a Windows device with battery life that’s comparable to other tablets running mobile OSes designed from the ground up.

Microsoft has the right OS platform to be competitive in this space. With some more power efficient hardware I could see a future iteration of Surface moving its way up these charts.

Camera Performance
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  • The0ne - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    A few things that caught my attention that would push me to buy one,

    "Surface is both larger and heavier than the iPad, both design decisions on Microsoft’s part to built a device that could better deal with Windows RT’s multitasking capabilities as well as make room for a comfortable typing area when used with one of its two keyboard covers."

    "Whether or not Surface is priced appropriately really depends on how much you value Windows RT and getting Office 2013 for free. I suspect if you’re already a big Office user, you’ll see a lot of value in the bundle."

    As much as I abhor the ribbon style in Office, I absolutely love the 2013 Office preview, its metro style UI, the fluidity of working around int he apps. Seriously I love this new office, its such a joy to work in them with the "metro" style inclusions. Therefore getting it for free is a nice touch if I consider buying one. FYI, I have all 3 versions running side by side to test (2003, 2010 and 2013) and 2013 is just so smooth to work in I can live with the ribbon bar (with my fully customized custom bar of course).

    As for the weight and comfortable typing, that's even better to use the tablet as a notebook for work and on the road. Can't wait.
    Reply
  • Subyman - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    It looks like MS is moving in the right direction. I like how they are splitting the difference between serious computing and be very mobile, unlike what Apple has done. Apple totally killed productivity with the iPad and seem to be trying to go back and mend that decision. MS is offering professionals options for typing, but the device is still totally usable by the normal consumer.

    I will be interested once the hardware become a bit more powerful. Win RT looks to be hammering the little ARM processor, but that will be worked out over the next year or so.
    Reply
  • JoeA - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Well balanced and written article with positive attributes and things that still can be improved. I’m an early adaptor because I physically work with tech and installs. I’m looking forward to Rev 2 and 3. The transition will not be as hard as some make it out to be. Have fun and yes agreed it’s just different and works very well. Reply
  • Bob Todd - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Nice review. While there's always something better around the corner, this feels like really unfortunate timing on the CPU/SOC release schedule. On the low end we've got A9 ARM parts at the end of their competitive life, with A15 around the corner (or S4 Pro here would have been sweet). In the middle ground we've got Windows 8 tablets running a 5 year old Atom architecture that's finally about to be overhauled and shrunk to 22nm. Then on the high end we're not far away from Haswell. All 3 of those should provide noticeable improvements to performance (both CPU/GPU) and/or battery life. I'll definitely purchase a Windows 8 tablet, but it won't happen until the next CPU/SOC refresh. A Broadwell based Surface Pro with Thunderbolt/USB3/high res display...yum. Reply
  • Hoekie - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Nah, you can always wait for something better. Development takes time.
    The UI is fluid and that's the most important part regarding time to market for SoC's.
    Reply
  • Bob Todd - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Apps are slow to launch. This thing can't really have a higher res panel because of Tegra 3 limitations. The moves to A15 class or the next Atom aren't little 10% spec bumps that we're used to on the desktop side. We're talking about very noticeable improvements to the user experience. S4 Pro devices are going to be available here next week. I'd buy a Surface RT right now with an S4 Pro and a 1920x1080 panel. If they added another $50 for the panel I wouldn't mind. Like I said, there's always something better around the corner, but this thing is making its debut at the twilight of 3 architectures (A9, Atom, Ivy). I'm not saying _they_ should have waited, I'm saying I'm going to wait because they can refresh both RT and Pro versions in a few months with changes that really matter (cpu/gpu/battery life) in a device designed for productivity. Every SOC refresh will get better, it's just that the next ones are major and are so close. Reply
  • Bob Todd - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Apps are slow to launch. This thing can't really have a higher res panel because of Tegra 3 limitations. The moves to A15 class or the next Atom aren't little 10% spec bumps that we're used to on the desktop side. We're talking about very noticeable improvements to the user experience. S4 Pro devices are going to be available here next week. I'd buy a Surface RT right now with an S4 Pro and a 1920x1080 panel. If they added another $50 for the panel I wouldn't mind. Like I said, there's always something better around the corner, but this thing is making its debut at the twilight of 3 architectures (A9, Atom, Ivy). I'm not saying _they_ should have waited, I'm saying I'm going to wait because they can refresh both RT and Pro versions in a few months with changes that really matter (cpu/gpu/battery life) in a device designed for productivity. Every SOC refresh will get better, it's just that the next ones are major and are so close. Reply
  • Swift2001 - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    People like yourfather239 -- interesting nickname -- are trolls. We, the sane people of the AnandTech comments, should be able to kick him off -- or demand attention of the site runner to read the exchange and kick him off. Even a reasonable discussion of racism and the dynamics of it would be okay on another site. But this guy is not contributing a thing. He's a bigot. He should not be rewarded by our attention. Reply
  • OldAndBusted - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Then again, your name calling is pretty ugly too. Reply
  • IKeelU - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Nice false equivalence, ace. Swift2001's "name calling" can be observed to be accurate, unlike the racist he's calling out. Reply

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