How to Fix the Battery “Problem” on the Surface Pro 4

In an earlier post I covered the two items I “hated” about my Microsoft Surface Pro 4.  The first was a lack of built-in LTE which I solved with an LTE hotspot which works great.

The second problem was the lack of battery life; not that it doesn’t have a decent battery but if you want to use it with all the settings turned up (sleep time, screen brightness, etc) it runs down pretty quickly.  As I said, even an hour of Candy Crush on Facebook will mostly kill the battery.

Since I don’t like to compromise the performance settings, I began looking for ways of extending the battery.  A quick trip down a side road – we were recently at a restaurant in Orlando and for the first time I saw phone charger battery packs you could borrow while you ate to keep your phone charged.

What a great world – I remember only a few years ago seeing every square foot of floor on airport concourses taken up by people fighting over the few outlets spaced along the wall.  Today, even all the concourse chairs have built in USB ports.

So a battery pack isn’t the issue; the issue is that the Surface Pro 4 WON’T charge via USB!  This to me is a problem since a long airplane flight would quickly leave me without power.  I finally found a solution – again, not perfect but it works!

I bought a ChargeTech Portable AC power supply.  It’s the size of a large paperback book, has fast USB ports AND an AC outlet.  Perfect!  I have tested the ChargeTech on several occasions and I have yet to begin to completely discharge it.  I think the longest I used it was a 3 hour stretch at Starbucks. And the internal battery on the Surface Pro never budged.

What’s the down side?  The sucker is heavy; probably weighs about a pound.  Not much you say but when I added it to my sling backpack it was very noticeable.  I also wrote the company about how the TSA reacted to it and they reassured me that it would pass inspection and it has.

So if you need portable AC power, I can unreservedly recommend the ChargeTech.  It won’t run your hairdryer or your TV, but it will allow you to add hours of life to your laptop or tablet.

What I Hate about My Microsoft Surface Pro 4

Sounds like I’m trolling but I’m really not.  There is very little I actually dislike about my Surface Pro 4 – I have the i7 version with 16GB of memory and it just WORKS!

I’ve had an iPad, laptops, and other portable devices but my Surface Pro does more of what I want more easily and quickly than anything I’ve ever owned.

Before I share what I dislike (hate is such a strong word), let me list what I love:

  • Everything I need to work or play fits in my small backpack.
  • The surface keypad is a joy to type on.
  • The screen is large and bright.
  • It’s just fun to use.

So what’s “bad” about it?  I have two small complaints:

  • If you have all your settings cranked to maximum, the battery life is very minimal.  I can go from 100% to 20% in less than an hour if I’m running a YouTube video or even a Facebook game.
    • Of course, I could change the settings to crank everything down to save battery but it changes the performance I’m used to when plugged in.
  • It’s Wi-Fi only which is fine for Starbucks or anywhere I can find reliable Wi-Fi.
    • I’ve solved this one with an LTE hotspot but I always enjoyed my iPad having built in LTE.  I realize the next generation Surface will offer LTE  but I’m probably not going to update just for that!

I’ve also been able to “fix” the battery life issue and will cover that in a separate post.

What do you “hate” about your Surface Pro?

Minimalist Blogging Tools

So you’ve bought your URL (www.itsme.com!) and now you want to get serious; living the 4-Hour Workweek type of life. What’s the minimal toolset you can utilize to create content? There are folks that post their photographs that may need nothing more than a camera and a network connection.

But if you want to write almost anywhere, what do you need? I’ll explain my setup and offer variations you can explore.

1) A MS Office subscription – this costs me about $8 a month and includes the full Microsoft office suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The benefit here is that documents are auto-saved to OneDrive which is also included in my subscription. And I can then open my documents on any network-attached computer for editing or uploading to my blog. You may have alternatives to office that are free such as www.openoffice.org.
2) My iPhone – there is a pretty good version of Office for iOS which allows me to create content right on my phone. It’s actually what I’m doing right now while at a not-to-the named theme park with my family. You can obviously also use your Android device with the office suite as well. Again, since I’m in Word, my documents are automatically saved to my OneDrive.
3) You could type on the on-screen keyboard but I prefer a full keyboard. There are several but I use the iClever Bluetooth keyboard. It’s tiny, thin and folds to the size of a paperback book. It’s angled in the middle leaving a slight gap between right and left-hand keys but that hasn’t caused me any problems. It charges via a micro USB cable and the charge lasts for months.
4) A stand – there are numerous phone cases that offer a ‘kick stand’ to stand your phone up for viewing but I bought a small folding standing for a dollar at Walgreens that works just great.

So with an absolute minimum of equipment, I can set up and be typing or editing content in just moments.

If you’d like any specifics on any of the items in this article, just comment and I’ll add the details.

PS – for more involved work – but still small and mobile – I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4.  Greatest portable I’ve ever owned.  I’ll have more on that in a later post.