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Power Handhelds Microsoft Portables Hardware

Surface Pro 2 Gets Significant Battery Boost 157

Posted by timothy
from the can't-beat-a-trs-80-model-100 dept.
SmartAboutThings writes "The original Surface Pro didn't have quite a good battery life and that's why Microsoft tried to fix this with the Surface Pro. After the Surface Pro 2 has hit general availability, Microsoft has silently pushed out a firmware update which, according to some new battery benchmarks run by Anandtech, made significant improvements to the battery life of the Surface Pro 2. After the new web browsing battery life test it was discovered that the Surface Pro 2 now manages better battery life than the ARM Surface 2, which is pretty impressive. With the firmware update, Microsoft was targeting over 8 hours, and AnadTech's benchmarks show Microsoft has succeeded, registering a 25% increase in battery life over the no-firmware version. The unpatched Surface Pro 2 lasted for 6.68 hours while with the firmware update installed, its battery life increased to 8.33 hours. The video playback test involved playing a movie until the battery died, and here, albeit smaller, improvements with the battery life have also been noticed: 7.73 hours compared to 6.65 hours."
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Surface Pro 2 Gets Significant Battery Boost

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  • by hjf (703092) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @05:33PM (#45313821) Homepage

    Ah, Surface. The tablet that "could", but won't.
    Not because it can't. No, because the Web 2.0 won't let it. It doesn't matter if it's good. It doesn't matter if its x86 and is able to run your programs. It doesn't matter if it has gobs of RAM and a ton of disk space, and it can do real multitasking. Oh yes, and it's faster than your silly android tablet which is mostly an Angry Birds or Candy Crush machine.

    No.

    It's microsoft. It's not Android. And it's definitely not Apple.

    It's a shame. It's a nice tablet. Too bad its destiny is decided by "geeky" douchebag-hipsters. Just like the Zune, which, regardless of how much the Zune store sucked, it was shot by iFans mostly because it was brown.

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      I wouldn't mind one if the platform allowed alternative firmware..A stripped down uclibc/uclibc++ linux desktop distro might work nicely with them. It's true I don't like metro, but I also don't like its workalike competitors, iOS and android, either. This isn't the fault of touchscreen nor is the the fault of complex software, it's the attempt at combining the two that is broken. The result ends up being a dumbed down interface that is only marginally useful at best. Touchscreens are great for simplistic

      • What the hell are you ranting on about? What's stopping you from installing whatever x86 OS you wish?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by nojayuk (567177)

          Windows 8 Pro on the Surface Pro can run up to 4 VMs so anyone who wanted to experiment with, say FreeBSD on this hardware could do so without having to install an alternative OS. I don't know if the touch screen and digitiser is supported by other OSes though.

          • Windows 8 Pro can run as many VMs as the hardware will support (4 sounds reasonable for a modern OS, assuming the 8GB version). Touch + digitizer probablywouldn't work inside a VM, but since the digitizer is a standard wacom digitizer, driver support isn't problematic when used natively.

          • I really don't see myself running FreeBSD in a VM on my tablet. It'd be hell to control the GUI stuff, let alone do the keyboard input. Tablets are used mostly for consuming, not for development or simulation.
        • by epyT-R (613989)

          I thought these 'surface' machines were locked..

      • Why can't you just install your own OS on it? Microsoft has said that any computer that is branded to run Windows 8 must allow the user to unlock secure boot. So unlock it and put what you want on it. It's just a compact x86 PC with a touchscreen/digitizer.
    • How odd. The one thing I don't do with my Nexus 7 is play Angry Birds.

      • by hjf (703092)

        I have a Nexus 7. Well, my dad does. Anyway, the nexus 7 is some "top of the line" tablet. With great spects, well built, etc.

        It SUCKS for web browsing. Seriously. Why is android SO DAMN SLOW at browsing? Sure, my desktop is a Core i5 and firefox is really fast in it. But in both my phone (HTC Sensation) and the tablet, browsing is stupidly slow. And I tried Chrome, Firefox, Android Browser, Dolphin, Opera... I'm using to click-page opens. Android drives me crazy, taking 10-20 seconds to open a website (and

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          Seriously. Why is android SO DAMN SLOW at browsing? Sure, my desktop is a Core i5 and firefox is really fast in it. But in both my phone (HTC Sensation) and the tablet, browsing is stupidly slow. And I tried Chrome, Firefox, Android Browser, Dolphin, Opera... I'm using to click-page opens.

          I have the same problem! I just don't understand it, even through various iterations of Android and custom firmware it's only slightly better yet still strangely slow and laggy.

      • Oh, what do you do on it? Can you draw like this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puyMmARTqck [youtube.com]

        Oh wait, it even has shitty lag. http://www.geek.com/android/the-nexus-7-lag-dilemma-and-why-theres-no-real-fix-1560784/ [geek.com]

        Enjoy your lagfest.

        I don't get all the nonsense hate. Comparing a Nexus 7 to a Surface Pro is like comparing a lawn mower with a jet engine. Of course it going to burn more fuel because it can do more. .

    • by dido (9125) <dido@NOsPAm.imperium.ph> on Saturday November 02, 2013 @06:45PM (#45314275)

      Its destiny was not decided by "geeky douchebag hipsters" but by Microsoft. Explain the value proposition in paying US$1000 for an x86 tablet when there are ultrabooks with comparable specs that can be had for almost half the price. Honestly, I'd actually consider buying a Surface Pro, if it were priced at maybe $500-600. Microsoft priced themselves out of the market. They are not and will never be Apple, no matter how much Ballmer wishes otherwise. It's like Toyota marketing a sports car under the Toyota name, with Ferrari prices.

      • Don't take buying advice from this guy. Microsoft is not the Toyota of hardware, they have always made good PC hardware, not to mention that Toyota isn't really a low quality brand either, I'd bet you get more miles out of a Toyota sports car than a Ferrari. The pro costs 1000$ because its more useful than the ultrabooks in its spec. class and its more portable. A full desktop OS, keyboard, touchpad, waycom pen and touchscreen than you can carry around easily, there aren't many ultra books that offer that,

        • by dido (9125) <dido@NOsPAm.imperium.ph> on Saturday November 02, 2013 @07:41PM (#45314571)

          The "waycom pen and touchscreen" is the only thing you listed which I don't get with a $600 ultrabook, and it definitely isn't worth the $400 difference to me. I make no pretense of being some kind of artist, and my pointing device needs are more than served by a $10 mouse or a built-in trackpad thank you very much. And I think it's cute how you missed the whole point of the obligatory car analogy.

          • by rjstanford (69735)

            So you're saying that the product they built doesn't meet your needs, therefore (ignoring the stuff that it has that you don't need) it is overpriced. Isn't that (to go back to cars) like comparing a Silverado to a Civic and saying that since you don't personally tow anything, the Silverado is an overpriced POS?

          • by csumpi (2258986)

            The "waycom pen and touchscreen" is the only thing you listed which I don't get with a $600 ultrabook, and it definitely isn't worth the $400 difference to me.

            OK, so it's not for you. Which means your comment adds 0 (zero) value to this discussion. Like the dual-path hydrostatic drive doesn't mean anything to me on the John Deere 950J, so I don't make stupid comments about it.

        • by geoskd (321194)

          Don't take buying advice from this guy. Microsoft is not the Toyota of hardware, they have always made good PC hardware, not to mention that Toyota isn't really a low quality brand either, I'd bet you get more miles out of a Toyota sports car than a Ferrari. The pro costs 1000$ because its more useful than the ultrabooks in its spec. class and its more portable. A full desktop OS, keyboard, touchpad, waycom pen and touchscreen than you can carry around easily, there aren't many ultra books that offer that, if any.

          They are like the Toyota of software though: mainstream, comfortable, but with some annoying quirks. The gear-heads want something faster, and are willing to tinker. Those with real money have something custom built to their satisfaction. For everyone else there's Toyota.

      • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @08:07PM (#45314751)
        Its destiny was not decided by "geeky douchebag hipsters" but by Apple. Explain the value proposition in paying US$600 for a iPad tablet when there are tablets with comparable specs that can be had for almost half the price. Honestly, I'd actually consider buying an iPad, if it were priced at maybe $300. Apple priced themselves out of the market
        • by dido (9125)

          Interestingly, I made exactly that decision when I bought the Asus Transformer I'm writing this on.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by rjstanford (69735)

          It probably has something to do with the fact that while other tablets outsell the iPad, far more traffic is seen from iPads than from other tablets. Designing something pleasant to use takes more than +1'ing someone else's spec sheet.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I would say that you've restated his exact point. People buy iPads, even if they are more expensive, because Apple's premium is considered worth it (by some). People don't buy the Surface Pro because (almost) nobody thinks Microsoft's premium is worth it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by hawk (1151)

          I won a free 7" Galaxy 3 at a conference last week.

          It would take a lot more to reach "underwhelmed" by it.

          At $500 for an iPad, and $100 for it, I'll take the iPad.

          Heck, at $500 iPad, and free tablet, I'll take the ipad.

          hawk

        • by dido (9125)

          Well, there is a value proposition in the $550 iPad 3 for many people, enough people for Apple to profitably sell it at that price point. Some folks find it easier to use, with more apps they care about, and so forth. Enough that they're willing to pay the $150 premium over the Nexus 10. I personally don't consider the premium worth it, but enough other people do, and that makes all the difference. Apple is making something that people want, at a price they feel is fair.

          Let's see, one of the first hits on A

        • by dimeglio (456244)
          Isn't the iPad Mini and the Surface 2 only about $50 apart? Plus you can pay a little more and get 3G/LTE on the iPad Mini. I don't think the Android tablet are competition to the iPad given the lack of tablet optimized apps. Sure they're trying to improve [google.com] but even with this effort, it doesn't mean you'll get a truly tablet optimized app. So even if there are some, they might not be obviously identifiable vs another which just stretches the display.
      • For years I've wanted one device that could unify my desktop, laptop, and tablet. I finally have that with Surface Pro.
        Plus it's even better than most tablets because it has a real wacom pen that works with photoshop.
        What's the value proposition?
        Desktop: was $1200
        Laptop: was about another $1200
        Tablet: $500
        Wacom cintiq: cheapest is $1000.
        You do the math. Plus I can take it with me anywhere I go.

      • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Sunday November 03, 2013 @03:02AM (#45316215)

        Apple started it. Android tablets had to be cheaper *and* faster to get a hold of that market. MicroSoft had both the OSes and multiple Android hardware vendors to deal with in an already well established market. They should have positioned their product against the top of Android at a price competing with the mid range of that tablet market.

        Also, they shouldn't try and position a pimped up tablet that was too crippled to take on netbooks, notebooks or ultrabooks at a price point higher than these. If you're selling it as an ultrabook with detachable keyboard, make it like that. the notebook/laptop/ultrabook/netbook format machines have hinges for a reason. It means you can position your device on any three-point surface with the base and adjust the screen so that you can look at it semi-comfortably. A kick stand doesn't work that way, because you need a totally flat surface at the correct hight in order to make use of your device with such a contraption.

        The sad part here is that the UI and the fact that you could use a lot of your code base for both desktop and portable device applications are lost because of these marketing decisions. If you ignore history and fanatic MicroSoft bashing and just look at the ergonomics of the tile interface and judge it by it's merits on a touch screen device, it's pretty good. The reason why Nokia's entry level phones are actually selling in Europe is not just because of the camera, the UI isn't half bad either and it's quite zippy on the lower spec hardware. For that money, you can't get an iPhone and the Android offerings at the same price point aren't stunning.

        I think they would have actually had a chance and may still have if they would get their head unstuck from between their buttocks and would just start competing their devices at whatever point the market puts them. That may mean they'd lose on every device they were selling for a few years. They were willing to take that risk with the Xbox and it looks like they have a solid gaming division set up now. Sell the tablets as tablets, price them so people would buy the one that's "so much better than the ipad/android at the same price" and hook them into xbox live as a unique selling point. By crossing over xbox games onto the tablets, you can make people do parts of the games on their tablets. The dog in GTA5 is a very good example why this sort of thing works and MicroSoft would be stupid not to use their xbox customers to extend their tablet market.

        Before you'll be calling me a fanboi, I'd much rather see good things happen to open source. Google has closed off most of Android apps, the kernel is totally forked from Linux and most hardware drivers are closed source. Even CyanogenMod has gone commercial now. I'm hoping one of the other Linux attempts at tablets or some *BSD attempt, will actually kick off and make a difference. The reason I am saying this is that even though I don't like MicroSofts business politics, I think the world would benefit from some good competition on the tablet market. MicroSoft genuinely has done quite a few things right, despite screwing up a lot of other things.

      • by exomondo (1725132)

        Explain the value proposition in paying US$1000 for an x86 tablet when there are ultrabooks with comparable specs that can be had for almost half the price.

        Like what? Please give me an example. Yes there are Ultrabooks that can be had for almost half the price but which ones have a touchscreen and active stylus? If those aren't features you want/need then obviously you would be better served by a cheaper Ultrabook that doesn't have those features.

      • It's like Toyota marketing a sports car under the Toyota name, with Ferrari prices.

        I do not think that is a good analogy. Ferrari does not command high prices because of their name. No, Ferrari can command high prices because of quality. The engineering is of very high quality, the materials are of very high quality, and the aesthetics are of very high quality.

        Granted, Toyota is not generally known for such high quality, but for myself personally, I would evaluate such a car and see if it really is worth Ferrari level prices.

        I love cars and I love driving. A whole LOT. I would examine any

        • I doubt anyone cares but my requirement checklist is:

          All Wheel Drive (I find myself in lots of low traction situations such as snow or water)
          Not naturally aspirated (turbo or supercharger helps when driving in mountains)
          Hard top convertible (I can't explain)
          Built quality (can not having it falling apart immediately out of warranty)
          Aesthetics (the Aztec was a godawfully ugly vehicle)

          Unfortunately, there are no cars under $100k that fit the bill and precious few over $100k. :(

          Electronics and other features ar

    • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @07:17PM (#45314453)

      It's a shame. It's a nice tablet

      Agreed. I have a Surface Pro. It's my primary computer for everything, whether I'm at my desk at the office, on the train, at an airport or in a hotel room.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I don't know you were modded troll, you only gave an opinion.
      But I'll disagree a bit. The first surface had a lot of problems and it came with an unusual UI. It wasn't dinged for being Microsoft but because of what it was. Surface 2 then is inheriting the bad name of Surface 1 (and unfortunately Surface RT, which is where Microsoft should have used a different name).

      Zune was a "me too!" product. The market was flooded with mp3 players when Zune came out, not just ipod.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      No, because the Web 2.0 won't let it.

      No, because it costs $900 at the low end. It's indeed better than a cheap ARM tablet ($150-$400) in many ways. It's even better than an iPad ($500) in many ways. It's also almost impossible to see why many people would drop that kind of cash on what is essentially another touch-screen Windows laptop, if they weren't already in the market for such a device.

      Don't get me wrong, I love the cut throat competition in this space and in smartphones... if only PCs enjoyed this sort of variety again... but you are ei

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      surface != surface pro.

      that's the problem. if someone read your stuff they would think that surface is x86 and could run your programs.

      but it's not. surface pro(2) is.

      which gets us to how it's so hard to recommend to anyone novice to go and buy a surface, pro or not. because it takes fifteen minutes to explain to them what it can run depending on which version it is and they'll forget about it in another fifteen minutes.

    • I have a Surface RT and a Surface Pro. Love both of them. I also have a Zune that I used for a long time. Still love the software but Zune failed because it was too late. By the time zune was better than the competition smart phones were here and it no longer mattered. Surface Pro is doing well and is my main system right now. RT though? It needs to merge with the Windows Phone OS and lose the desktop (or make it an app that can run legacy apps in a sandbox).
      Once RT is not trying to exist in two worlds it w

    • Maybe. I find myself using my iPad much less than I used to. iPad Air? Who cares. My iPod Touch weighs less, fits in my pocket and runs the iOS apps I need. But a tablet that is also a fully capable PC, one that can also run VMs and legacy Windows apps? Far more useful than an iPad. I sold my old laptop; I will replace it with a Surface Pro 2. Yes it's more expensive than I would like, but now I can subtract the price of the iPad I really don't need anymore. I thought about buying an iPhone 5 as an internat

  • Slow night? (Score:5, Funny)

    by occasional_dabbler (1735162) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @05:34PM (#45313833)
    I like these things, hell, I bought one. I've often been accused of being a Microsoft shill on these pages, but even I think this is too dull a story for the front page.
    • by icebike (68054)

      I like these things, hell, I bought one. I've often been accused of being a Microsoft shill on these pages, but even I think this is too dull a story for the front page.

      Yeah, I got one too, my day job requires windows, and Surface Pro (OG, not 2) will run all the desktop software I need, and run it well.
      I wonder why the firmware update wouldn't work on the Original Surface Pro?

      • It only fixes a Wi-Fi bug, it seems. Effectively, a driver update.

        The original Surface Pro probably uses a different Wi-Fi adapter (or simply a different revision) and thus has a different driver that wasn't affected.

    • On the contrary - I think it's a fascinating story. But not because MS made the surface 2 battery test last 25% longer. Rather than a "simple" firmware update increased the battery life of *any* computer by 25%. That's fucking incredible, and shows how much could be done to make Windows machines more efficient. It also shows how much Apple has been doing to make their portables last longer by combining both firmware and software tweaks. Let's face it - when you put Windows on a Mac, the battery life drops b

  • what's the battery life of it if you install Android?

    just sayin

    • by bondsbw (888959)

      It depends on whether you are running tablet apps or high-performance desktop applications.

      To be fair, you can only compare the former.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ericloewe (2129490)

      Why the hell would you install Android on x86 hardware? Are you that blinded by fanboyism?

      • Tell that to intel:
        http://software.intel.com/en-us/android [intel.com]
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @06:29PM (#45314185)

      Several weeks, maybe even months. Mostly because you won't be able to turn it on.

  • by Dan Askme (2895283) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @06:04PM (#45314041)

    Pointless article, no offence.

    News = "You now get more chicken in the supermarket for less £££"
    Actual Facts (what this needs) = "Chicken now contains added water to make it look bigger"

    So whats the downside?:
    - Are they lowering the clock rates from advertised?
    - Have they actually optimized/fixed the OS code (wishful thinking)
    - Are they dropping rendering frames from a video?

    Who knows!, clearly not this article lol.

    • by Ignacio (1465)

      The "downside" is that even though battery life is improved, it's still terrible [codinghorror.com].

      • by Ignacio (1465)

        Pfft. Disregard this, obviously I didn't read the full summary.

        But in other news, "middling" is the new "good".

    • Wi-Fi improvements, supposedly.

      There is most likely no downside, only optimizations.

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      They're enabling a lower power state on the WiFi chip. So if it's not being used, it can drop to a power state lower than the one it was using previously. All this would do is add extra wakeup time when you suddenly start network activity, and I can't imagine it would be enough extra time to be noticeable.

  • I remember when I would go 8 days without charging my mobile. Now people get excited about 8 hours.
    • When did computer batteries ever last 8 days? Never.

      When I thought that comparing Apples to Oranges was annoying (puny iPad-like tablets vs. Surface Pro and similar), you decide on a Grapes to Oranges comparison (Phones vs. Surface Pro and similar).

      • by Kierthos (225954)

        One of the reasons I don't have a smart phone is that I don't have to charge my current phone every day. It's more like once a week. (Another of the reasons I don't have a smart phone is that I still have a 'dumb' phone that works fine. If/when it breaks, I'll think about moving to a smart phone, but I don't jump at getting new tech just because it comes out.)

      • by RR (64484)

        When did computer batteries ever last 8 days?

        Back when computers were much thicker but had a fraction of the computing power of one of those old Nokias.

        The Radio Shack TRS-80 [wikipedia.org] was supposed to have 20 hours of battery life. The Epson HX-20 [wikipedia.org] had 50 hours. And the Psion MC 400 [retrocosm.net] had 60 hours.

        That was working time. They all started from standby pretty much immediately, and they also had significant standby times. And they got these times using alkaline batteries. Rechargeable batteries sucked back then.

      • To take my comparing apples to oranges even further, I have an HP calculator that's 25 years old and I've never had to change the batteries.
  • Stupid bug (Score:5, Informative)

    by edxwelch (600979) on Saturday November 02, 2013 @06:20PM (#45314133)

    Apparently, the origonal version they programmed the Marvell Wifi chip wrong, so it didn't go into power save mode and now they fixed it

  • Movie playback exercises the GPU acceleration, not the CPU core.

    How about trying the tests while actually using the device for something? After all, one of Microsoft's biggest pushes for the Surface line is that they're for work, not play.

    Oh, I forgot. You can't do real work without a keyboard.

  • I'd be more worried about... "Secret" updates that could be doing anything to my system more than a small boost to my battery life...

  • I was able to try out a Surface Pro 2 for a few hours yesterday, and I was unable to get the digitizer anywhere near as accurate as my X Series Thinkpad convertible tablet or my Samsung 500T (Atom based Win8.1 tablet with a WACOM digitizer) - even after multiple calibrations, the SP2 was always at least 0.5 cm off, compared to 0.1 mm on the other devices.

    Was the unit broken or is this a widespread issue? The first Surface Pro was supposed to have much better digitizer accuracy than the X series tablets, so

    • Probably a defect. Ive heard here and there of some people having tracking issues with the pen. Myself however, for whatever its worth, picked up a SP2, and find the digitizer accuracy top notch. At first it had a fair bit of drift in the corners but after installing wacoms wintab drivers and calibrating it even the corners have been well behaved (or at least as well behaved as I've seen on any wacom digitizer, x series included)
      • Corner drift is perfectly fine and normal - I was referring to the center of the display. Guess the display unit they gave me was off then... No matter though, damned thing's too heavy for me anyway - I'd kill to have that display in my Samsung 500T though (or at least that resolution). No need for active cooling or an i5, but higher screen resolution than 1366x768 without sacrificing the 10+ hour battery life would be a dream come true...

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