Microsoft said Monday that its productivity-enhancing Surface Power Cover will begin shipping in a few days--and the extra battery life will cost you a couple hundred bucks.
Specifically, the Power Cover will cost $199 when it begins shipping on March 19, according to a Microsoft Store listing. The keyboard accessory will work with the Surface 2, the Surface Pro, and the Surface Pro 2.
Like the name suggests, the Power Cover includes a secondary battery, designed to extend the tablet's battery life further. A spokesman for Microsoft declined to specify the exact capacity of the onboard battery, but the Microsoft product page says that it will weigh in at 0.55 pounds. It will also lack the back-lit keys that the other Surface keyboards include.
Are you willing to give up keyboard back-lighting for another $200 purchase? Think carefully, because you may not need the additional battery life. According to our own lab benchmarks, the Surface 2 lasted over 12 hoursin our battery rundown test. Microsoft says that the the Power Cover will add up to 70 percent more battery life, or about 20 hours of battery life, to the Surface 2--and that's measured using continuous video streaming.
For the Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 2, the added battery life will be on the order of 60 percent, Microsoft said. In November, Microsoft updated the Surface Pro 2 with new firmware that extended the battery life to about 7 hours. Tack on an extra 60 percent to that, and the Surface Pro 2 battery life should come in at about 11 hours or so.
Microsoft announced the Power Cover at the launch of the next-generation Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 last fall. We're eager to see not just how it extends battery life, but how it affects the structure and stability of the Surface tablet itself. We recently tested the complementary Surface Pro docking station and were quite impressed--although, again, the improvements come at a relatively steep price.
With both the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, however, the new Power Cover should extend the battery life to a level that's useful for the length of an international flight, making those trips to Taiwan an opportunity to work as well as relax.