TIME Tablets

Microsoft Readies Surface Power Cover While Fixing a Major Annoyance

Microsoft

The Power Cover for Microsoft’s Surface tablets is available for pre-order now, with a $199 price tag and a ship date of March 19.

Much like the $130 Type Cover 2, the Power Cover has a full physical keyboard and a tiny trackpad. But it also has its own battery, which according to Microsoft will extend the life of a Surface 2, Surface Pro or Surface Pro 2 by up to 70 percent. (The original Surface is not supported.)

Stuffing a battery into a Surface keyboard cover does have some drawbacks: At 1.2 pounds, the Power Cover is twice as heavy as a Type Cover 2, bringing the total weight of a Surface Pro up to 3.2 pounds. That’s a lot heavier than most thin-and-light laptops. The Power Cover also lacks keyboard backlighting, unlike the Type Cover 2 and Touch Cover 2.

In my experience with the Surface Pro 2, I average around six to seven hours on a charge with the Type Cover 2 plugged in. It’d be nice to push the battery into the 10-hour range, but I wouldn’t want that extra weight tacked on all the time, so I’ll personally be holding off unless the price ever drops into impulse-buy range. The Power Cover could be a life saver, however, for the original Surface Pro, whose battery runs around four to five hours on a charge.

In the meantime, I’m happy to see that Microsoft is fixing the biggest annoyance with all of the current Surface keyboard covers. In Windows 8.1 Update 1, the Surface covers will finally support double tap-and-drag on the trackpad.

Currently, trying to drag an object using the Type Cover 2 is a maddening experience. You must first hold down the left-click button with one finger, and then use another finger to drag, but the left button is so finicky that it’s hard to keep it held down as you move your other finger around. Most laptop trackpads allow you to drag items by double tapping a single finger, then holding it down as you drag, but for some reason the Surface covers can’t do this. I asked Microsoft representatives in January if they were planning to address the issue, and I got stonewalled.

Apparently Microsoft has been working on it behind the scenes. Although the company hasn’t gone into detail on what it’s calling the “spring update” for Windows 8.1, those who have used the leaked version say that double tap-and-drag has been added.

According to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, the update for Windows 8.1 will likely be available in early April.

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