I love my Surfaces. I have three at the moment: one Surface RT (1st generation) which is going to pass to my younger daughter for her homework, email, videos, internet browsing and games; one Surface 2 (no more RT in the name now, this is the second generation of the “small” Surface which runs Windows Store apps); and a Surface Pro first generation.
I was hoping to grab a Surface Pro 2 during my recent trip to Seattle but the model that interests me (256GB) is sold out throughout the USA (and most of the world probably). Some MVPs managed to grab one here or there, but even with a bit of research I was unable to find any. Nevermind, I’ll just wait a bit. While I love my Surface Pro 1, I just would like a bit more RAM (4GB is a bit tight for development), more SSD (128GB at the moment requires me to think too much about what I synchronize from Skydrive and what I leave online-only) and some more battery life.
This last point is mostly not an issue except in a few scenarios. Notably on a long flight (like the ones I just took to the US and back), it would be nice to have power for at least 8 hours or so. On the last trip, I went with my Pro1 and with the Surface RT. I came back with the Pro, the RT and the Surface 2. On the way in, I was able to code and to edit video for about 3.5 hours before the battery gave up (video editing is battery intensive!). Then I switched to the RT and wrote most of an article for MSDN magazine and watched some videos. It was still productive time, but I really wanted to be able to use my Pro for a longer period.
I have a good solution now. I purchased an Intocircuit Power Castle battery from Amazon. At 26000 mAh, it is one of the biggest capacity power bank you can find in a still portable and compact form factor. The battery is pretty gorgeous, and comes with a small bag to carry it around. It allows switching from 19V (for large laptops like my Dell Precision) to 16V and 12V (which is what the Surface needs).
Intocircuit gives a number of adapters for mobile phones, tablets and laptops. However the Surface connector is proprietary (bad) and not popular enough yet that people like Intocircuit would provide one. So I did a little bit of thinking and purchased a power adapter that you can plug in a car “cigarette lighter” type of plug (actually I bought two, so I can leave one in my car and power my Surfaces while driving).
Once I got the car adapter, I cut the magnetic adapter that snaps to the Surface device, and soldiered the cables to a female plug that fits with the cable provided by Intocircuit (just ask your local electronics shop). Once it was done, I had a great solution by being able to switch from the standard adapters provided by Intocircuit to the custom one for the Surface. And what’s great is that it fits all my Surfaces (including the yet-to-come Surface Pro 2), so it’s perfect.
For those of you who prefer a ready-built solution, I saw that it is possible to purchase a cable that is already customized for the Surface and suitable for the Intocircuit battery. Building the cable myself was easy enough so I didn’t bothered, but you can find more information about this online.
Hope that this tip helps a few of you who are often on business trips. Already looking forward to try that on my next intercontinental flight :)