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While the pricing, application compatibility, and overall capability may suggest the Surface Pro is an Ultrabook in disguise, one factor compares somewhat unfavorably -- battery life.
Microsoft confirmed on Thursday that the Surface Pro will have a battery life about half that of the Surface tablet running Windows RT, which is estimated at eight to 10 hours.
That means four to five hours, at least in part because of the power requirements of the Surface Pro's Ivy Bridge Core i5 processor .
The RT uses the ARM-based quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3, which was designed specifically for battery-powered mobile devices -- but the RT tablet's popularity may be limited, especially for businesses, because it only runs applications specifically designed for RT, of which there are currently relatively few. The Surface RT is priced $200 to $400 less than the Surface Pro.
One of the key selling points of Ultrabooks has been their long battery life, often estimated at six to eight hours, and up to 10 in some cases.
Battery life aside, Microsoft is clearly positioning the Surface Pro as a kind of touchscreen Ultrabook with optional keyboard cover. It could also be compared to the hybrid tablet/laptops with Windows 8 that have emerged in the last few months, but with more emphasis on the tablet side. The Lenovo Yoga hybrid, for instance, runs about $1100.
Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group noted that the pricing for the Surface Pro is comparable to other Windows 8 tablets, and is somewhat less than an equivalent Ultrabook. However, he pointed out, tablets are often "bring your own devices" in businesses, and the current price point may well cause BYOD-ers some amount of hesitation.
But Enderle predicted that, as manufacturing capacity increases for this product, prices "will probably drop sometime next year," which could increase the Surface Pro's appeal to businesses.