Microsoft’s Surface Power Cover

You can see that at first glance there is not much difference from the standard  keyboard. But this one is heaver and packing more battery power.

You can see that at first glance there is not much difference from the standard keyboard. But this one is heaver and packing more battery power.

If you are a regular and dedicated reader you are probably aware that I am a big fan of the Microsoft Surface. First released in October of 2012 this little tablet/laptop hybrid has gone through 2 generations in both of of its incarnations. This can be a little confusing but there is basically a “tablet” type version known as the “Surface” line and the full fledged no limitations Windows version known as the “Surface Pro” line. Of course the “Surface Pro” line will cost you a couple hundred dollars more then the “tablet only” line but for me this has turned into my go to mobile work device.

Anyway if there is one area where Microsoft has been slow is the availability of add-on accessories for their Surface line. Other then a mouse, dock and a couple keyboards there has not been much released yet. Unlike the iPad, accessories have been rare.

One accessory that I had been waiting for was the Surface Power Cover which also acts as the detachable keyboard. Although this was released back in March I have only recently been able to get a hold of one. Out of the box, at first glance this looks exactly like the Type Cover 2. However there are some slight physical differences, obviously a result of the battery hiding inside.

if you are familiar with the Surface Type Cover 2 you will notice that other then a little thicker there is no physical difference between the two.

if you are familiar with the Surface Type Cover 2 you will notice that other then a little thicker there is no physical difference between the two.

At 1.2 pounds this keyboard alone weighs in more then the iPad Air. So like anything else, you give up something (more weight) but you will have more battery life when out and about.

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You connect the Power Cover in the exact same was as an other Surface typing cover. The only difference I can see are two large bumps which have little connectors on them that probably transmit power to the device.

The Microsoft Surface Cover self installs the first time you connect it. Afterward when clicking on the battery icon on your taskbar you will actually see 2 batteries. The battery on the new Surface Cover is used first, followed by the tablet iself.

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Unlike the other Surface keyboards this one is only available in black and I recommend it if you own a Surface and travel. The added weight is the biggest hurdle here but that aside this is a fine addition for anyone with a Surface.

You can purchase one of these for $199.99 at Microsoft’s website or allegedly at Staples or Best Buy.

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Extending Battery Life This Holiday Season

Many of us travel during the holidays. When we travel we take our mobile devices with us.  These devices have batteries that often simply can’t keep up with our busy lives, especially during the holidays . Even if you give yourself plenty of time to make it to make it to your destination, there is not much you can do if your flight is delayed or if traffic is backed up. Not only will delays make you late, but they could also deplete the battery life of your phone and tablet. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to extend battery life and save power.

If your smartphone has a battery case available that adds extra battery life I would recommend one if you travel. Most of these cases have a connector that plugs directly into the phone’s charge port, which is how they deliver the power. These will often triple the life of your battery!

There are also external battery packs. These are usually very small and usually connect your mobile device with a USB cable. If your smartphone does not have a battery case accessory available these are your best bet. These battery cases are also great for tablets.

Saving your battery’s charge can be as simple as tweaking some settings on your phone or tablet.  Here are some changes you can make to prolong battery life when traveling. Each smartphone will have slightly varied ways in which to make these changes but I trust you can figure it out!

Dim the screen: Most phones include an auto-brightness feature that automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness to suit ambient lighting levels and system activity. This mode uses less power than constantly running your screen at full brightness would, but you’ll get even better results by turning your screen’s brightness down to the lowest setting that you can tolerate and leaving it there.

Adjust your screen timeout: When your device has been idle for a certain amount of time, the screen shuts off and goes back to black, thus reserving precious battery life for when you actually need to use it.

Turn off Wi-Fi: If you’re not using Wi-Fi, turn it off. Same goes for Bluetooth.

Turn off, or limit, notifications:  These are the popup notifications from apps such as Facebook, Twitter, CNN etc.

Minimize unneeded apps and options: Speaking of apps, kill unnecessary apps that aren’t in use. Because our smartphones are excellent multitaskers, they tend to keep apps running in the background until they are forced closed. Apps are heavy energy consumers. Once again each smartphone will have different methods of doing this.

Turn on Airplane Mode: This disables all of the wireless features of your device, including cellular data, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and other location services. Therefor even if you are not flying and you want to simply save as much battery power as possible turning on this feature will help.

Turn off location services:  This will save a lot of power by disabling GPS services.

Turn off vibrate: Vibrating uses much more power than playing a ringtone does. It takes a lot of power to make your smartphone wiggle!

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Powering Your Smatphones When the Lights Go Out

Our recent ice storm which has knocked out power for so many has me re-posting this article which talks about keeping your mobile devices powered when the lights go out.

Recently posted October 31, 2012.

Hurricane Sandy just passed through our region and I am thankful that we in the West Chester area dodged a major weather bullet. However our neighbors in New Jersey and New York were not so lucky. Millions are without power. I have been watching the new ABC series “Revolution” which describes a world where the power goes out… for good. This is very scary, especially because we all rely on power for everything. We especially depend on our smartphones. These little devices we all seem to be carrying with us are after all really just little computers.

As a matter of fact a professor of mine, Dr. Alan Shark started off a CIO (Chief Information Officer) course I was taking by holding up his smartphone and stating, “These are not phones, they are now computers with phones Apps”. He was so right and his remark really struck me.

There is some good information here if I don’t say so myself. For example did you know that text messages take way less power then talking.

Anyway try to follow these tips the next time the lights go out. Which I hope is not for a long time.

1. Fully charge your laptop, and save that charge for your phone.
It’s easy to forget that our phones charge when they are plugged into our laptops via the USB port. This works even when your laptop is not connected to a power outlet. To get the most out of this trick, restart your laptop to kill all running applications and processes, dim the screen to nothing, and don’t use it for any other purpose. Just plug your phone in when the phone gets low on charge and allow it to drain your laptop’s (much larger) battery.

2. When the power goes out, turn off all the radios on your phone you’re not using. (WiFi & Bluetooth)
Your phone’s radios are the major drain on battery life. If you want to leave the phone connected to the cell network in case of emergency text turning off WiFi will preserve battery life, as will turning off the Bluetooth radio.

3. Keep your phone plugged into a charger until the power goes out.
No explanation needed here friends.

4. Turn off all “push” notifications on your phone.
News services and various apps send you “push” notifications that require your phone to power up just a bit in order to receive data from a remote location.

5. Restart your phone to kill all the apps that are running now.
This will assure that no unnecessary apps are running in the background, draining power by making the phone’s microprocessor do extra work.

6. Turn down the brightness on your screen.
Displays on phones are the other major battery hog. Turn down the display to the lowest level at which you can still read it.

7. Send text messages instead of making phone calls.
Text messages are tiny amounts of data, sent quickly, and do not tax your phone’s batteries the way a phone conversation does. Plus, texts are more likely to get through when the cell network is overwhelmed.

8. Borrow a cell phone car charger.
Sure, if you have a car, you should already own one of these items, but in a pinch, maybe your neighbor has one.

9. Do not use your phone.
This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget. When the power goes out keeping your phone available for emergencies is more important to updating your friends on Facebook or Twitter.

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