Microsoft Surface Power Cover-Keyboard Nearing Release

Microsoft will start shipping the battery life-boosting version of it keyboard-cover for Surface tablets next week, perhaps in time for the rumored launch of the Surface 2 with LTE.

Microsoft has opened up preorders of the Power Cover for its line of Surface tablets with a ship date of March 19. Like the innovative Type Cover, it provides protection for the Surface's touchscreen and doubles as a full keyboard and trackpad. As its name suggests, however, it has another function that helps the tablet run longer between charges.

A product page at the Microsoft Store describes the Power Cover as a "classic laptop keyboard [that] extends the battery life of your Surface up to 70 percent" and can recharge a Surface 2, Surface Pro or Pro 2 while it sleeps. "You'll have plenty of juice to stay unplugged all day in the office, during a full day of classes, or on a cross-country flight," claims Microsoft.

According to the company's estimates, the Surface Pro 2 can deliver seven hours of video playback, stretching to nearly 12 hours with the Power Cover.

Available only in black, the Power Cover uses mechanical keys like those found on the Type Cover 2. (Surface Touch Cover uses pressure sensitive keys that lack travel.) It includes a capacitive trackpad, but unlike the Type Cover, its keys are not backlit.

Power Cover adds 0.55 lbs. to the Surface and is 9.75 mm (0.38 inches) thick. The Type Cover 2, by comparison, also weighs in at just over half a pound but is nearly half as thick at 5 mm (0.19 inches). At $199.99, it is the most expensive keyboard cover offered by Microsoft.

The accessory will arrive just in time for the impending launch of the Surface 2 with LTE connectivity, according to a rumor spotted by TechCrunch's Alex Wilhelm. Citing a March 10 report at Windows Phone Central, the 4G-enabled tablets are said to be already shipping to Microsoft stores.

Surface 2 with LTE is hardly a secret, reminded Wilhelm. "It's hit the FCC; the Surface team announced that it was coming on Reddit; and we've known for some time even which providers it is likely to pair with," wrote Wilhelm.

One of those providers is apparently AT&T. Daniel Rubino at Windows Phone Central claims that his site is in possession of photographic evidence. "Photos of the device, including the box that reads 'AT&T Network Ready' have been sent our way, though we have been asked to not post them due to the sensitive nature of the material."

There's no word on price yet. If Microsoft mimics Apple's pricing strategy for the iPad, the Surface 2 with LTE may cost more than the WiFi version, which starts at $299. Apple charges $130 more for LTE on the iPad Air, bumping the base price of a 16 GB model to $629 compared to $499 for the WiFi-only model.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...