Microsoft hints at future battery add-on for Surface Pro

Microsoft's Surface team, lead by Panos Panay, have held a Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit today to talk mostly about the upcoming Surface Pro tablet. During the session, they referred to some future accessories for the Surface that tie into some new connections found on the bottom of the Surface Pro.

When answering a question from a Reddit user who asked what these mysterious connections are for, The Surface team replied:

Wow - I'm pumped you caught that - we haven't announced what they are for but they aren't an accident! At launch we talked about the "accessory spine" and hinted at future peripherals that can click in and do more. Those connectors look like can carry more current than the pogo pins, don't they?

This would seem to suggest that Microsoft might offer future add-ons such as a true laptop dock that would maybe add more ports to the tablet. It might also be used for attaching an extra battery pack which could extend the battery life of the Surface Pro, which currently lasts for about half as long as the Surface RT tablet.

Indeed, another Reddit user asked if Microsoft has any plans either an external battery or a keyboard that has an extended battery. The Surface team responded with this big hint:

That would require extending the design of the accessory spine to include some way to transfer higher current between the peripheral and the main battery. Which we did...

So far the only accessories for the Surface Pro are the Touch and Type covers, the included stylus and a limited edition Surface Wedge mouse.

Source: Reddit

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Somehow the idea of tablet PC that boot up close enough speed as iPad but its actually a full windows that can install window 7 compatible program failed to wow the reader.

Imagine if iPad can run full program like ios leopard, elephant. I better hope no one says apple just reach a milestone.

imagine if android nexus can run full compatibility program like windows such as full office, acrobat, PhotoShop, Nero, DVD fab, vuze.

what a joke ppl.

The problem is that no one wants this device, it is a flop.

Who wants a tablet that needs to run anti virus?
Has poor battery life?
Has a fan?
Is really heavy?
Cant be used while held in one hand because its too heavy?
Cant be used in portrait mode because its too heavy?
Cant be used on your lap with either keyboard that MS sells for it
Who wants a tablet with a pen that falls off when you pick up the device?
Who wants this very expensive ultra book like device apart from some people here reading this now?

Surface and Surface RT is a mess and a mistake.

derekaw said,
The problem is that no one wants this device, it is a flop.

Who wants a tablet that needs to run anti virus?
Has poor battery life?
Has a fan?
Is really heavy?
Cant be used while held in one hand because its too heavy?
Cant be used in portrait mode because its too heavy?
Cant be used on your lap with either keyboard that MS sells for it
Who wants a tablet with a pen that falls off when you pick up the device?
Who wants this very expensive ultra book like device apart from some people here reading this now?

Surface and Surface RT is a mess and a mistake.


Most OS'es now has virus and yup including MAC and Android

Poor Battery life compared to what? RT run straight 9 hours, my laptop on 3 hours and it's a core duo.

again heavy compared to iPAD? You must be Apple fan

the rest are mumbo jumbo uttered from your childish mouth

Oh another thing when you said no one wants this device, you forgot that I want it.

For any type of serious use, one first needs to add a keyboard. Now, one needs to add a battery pack. Are these two of what will probably be several add-ons in a vain attempt of having a table mimic a laptop. Why not just buy a legitimate laptop (or desktop) and avoid the hassle?

Bitching about battery life, that is getting over 5hrs on average with non-light usage, on an i5 class computer is just stupid.

Most everyone here complaining has an Duo2/i5/i7 notebook that gets 'maybe' 2hrs of usage, and this tiny Tablet getting 5hrs is somehow a 'fail'...

Really?

Nice, had a few misgivings but with this info I'm definitely getting one on Saturday and chucking this craptastic Asus Vivo Tab. Give me more powaa!!!!!

Well it seems that they were aware of the battery before releasing it and have an unannounced solution, hopefully its a nice dock with more connectors. A type cover with a battery would be a cool too, if they can still keep it thin and portable.

So I don't think this a reaction to reviews that were posted TODAY, see the extra pins in the. As to why it won't be available on Saturday is a mystery to me. A dock for professionals is a no-brainer, which is something I hope they've planned for.

If it needs a battery add on then its a FAIL.

I have been reading some reviews and batter life is mostly described as terrible. This thing is meant to be a tablet. Its heavy, it has crap battery life. Its a FAIL.

derekaw said,
If it needs a battery add on then its a FAIL.

I have been reading some reviews and batter life is mostly described as terrible. This thing is meant to be a tablet. Its heavy, it has crap battery life. Its a FAIL.

Seems with power consumption of hardware components being less and less, that battery life would be better. I am waiting on someone to come out with a better battery for tablets/phones/laptops.... Seems everything else is advancing but battery tech.

Might as well make a device with everything built in instead of having addons for certain things, huh? If it needs any important add on then its a FAIL. The iPad has crap peripheral support because you need an addon to add any space to it. Its a FAIL.

derekaw said,
If it needs a battery add on then its a FAIL.

I have been reading some reviews and batter life is mostly described as terrible. This thing is meant to be a tablet. Its heavy, it has crap battery life. Its a FAIL.

I completely disagree, lets say they make a touch cover (So this means its a keyboard as well as a battery) that adds another 6 - 8 hours of battery life.......so in total lets say it can last around 12 hours.....is it still a fail?????

techbeck said,

Seems with power consumption of hardware components being less and less, that battery life would be better. I am waiting on someone to come out with a better battery for tablets/phones/laptops.... Seems everything else is advancing but battery tech.

But tablets/phones/laptops have been advancing as an iterative process... There has to be a discovery to push new battery technology. Then they have to test the **** out of it to make sure it is safe. Much slower process.

I cant believe most of the bozos that reviewed the surface didn't test it in metro mode only. I bet it gets way better battery life (maybe 7-8 hours), but they don't want that information out.

Why would anyone buy the Pro for metro only mode, that's stupid. If you want a metro only mode tablet, the RT is the better choice.

who's saying youre using it exclusively in metro mode all the time? it is a tablet too. one day I may want to do some photoshop,another day I may be travelling and want to use metro apps only. id like to know how much battery I get if im using it as a tablet. if it gets similar battery life to other tablets then it puts it in a whole new light. but the reviewers are going in to make it look bad.

vcfan said,
if it gets similar battery life to other tablets then it puts it in a whole new light. but the reviewers are going in to make it look bad.

Anand Lal Shimpi claims 5-6 hours in light, tablet usage. Pretty good, but obviously far below dedicated tablets.

If the release a cover with a battery in it at the cost of thickness then it would be more of a laptop hybrid. In this case it would also work better in your lap I bet.

Good. This will shut up anybody that can't live with the (already plenty...) 5 to 6 hours it already has.

Seriously folks, I've lived with my Lenovo laptop that gets 5 hours of battery life and not ONCE in my time have I found that to not be enough.

Jimmy422 said,
Good. This will shut up anybody that can't live with the (already plenty...) 5 to 6 hours it already has.

Seriously folks, I've lived with my Lenovo laptop that gets 5 hours of battery life and not ONCE in my time have I found that to not be enough.

In the business world, it is not enough. Where I work, there are several buildings in the campus. We have users that use laptops and are constantly walking between buildings and do not get back to their desks until the end of the day. 5hrs is not enough for them so we end up getting them extended batteries. Yea, some can argue to carry a portable charger, but a lot of times people are working around equipment where loose cables are not allowed.

5hrs is probably good for most personal/home users...but corporations may need more.

Don't know about you, but I'd rather be home a week earlier than have a extra long lunch break/wait for recharge...

ModernMech said,
They don't take a lunch break? I've read Surface can recharge to full in an hour.

Some times not. Depends on what the user is doing. We also do work for the Navy so that can be time consuming. We have laptops that interface with equipment that can be running software for a while on battery.

techbeck said,
In the business world, it is not enough. Where I work, there are several buildings in the campus. We have users that use laptops and are constantly walking between buildings and do not get back to their desks until the end of the day. 5hrs is not enough for them so we end up getting them extended batteries. Yea, some can argue to carry a portable charger, but a lot of times people are working around equipment where loose cables are not allowed.

5hrs is probably good for most personal/home users...but corporations may need more.

The extended battery is a decent concept, and it's one even eluded to be coming with the Surface in the Reddit-related post. Personally, I would much rather plug in than carry an extra battery, and that's why I tend to not mind Apple's battery approach (not user replaceable). There are obvious trade-offs with that desire, such as the inevitable case where I don't have an available power outlet, but I find them to be no more common than simply forgetting to charge the extra battery.

Unfortunately, there is no standard computer that gives 6 hours of battery life with real usage. I love Apple's battery tech, but my MacBook Pro does not achieve greater than 5 hours with actual usage. More to the point as a software engineer, my workload is not too CPU intensive for the majority of the time, and it does not require the discrete graphics card to kick into action.

Realistically, that is what Intel is trying to correct with Haswell. I will be an early adopter with the Surface Pro, but I suspect that the next iteration will make me quite jealous when it comes packing Haswell, and probably a GPS chip among other features.

techbeck said,

In the business world, it is not enough. Where I work, there are several buildings in the campus. We have users that use laptops and are constantly walking between buildings and do not get back to their desks until the end of the day. 5hrs is not enough for them so we end up getting them extended batteries. Yea, some can argue to carry a portable charger, but a lot of times people are working around equipment where loose cables are not allowed.

5hrs is probably good for most personal/home users...but corporations may need more.

In the BUSINESS world that need longer battery times, like retail sales users out in the field, they purchase addon battery packs.

The HP TabletPCs have and external and additional battery packs available for 10 years now for BUSINESS users.

This is NOT an iPad, because BUSINESS users can run the existing company software on it without modification.

I get tired of kiddie IT people trying to state what 'enterprise' or 'business' needs or uses, when they only know their little company that hires them to hook up a computer to the LAN and ensure backups are running nightly.

You want to talk business, let us talk and I'll start with the three largest business customers in the world that we work with daily, support over 100,000 end users and systems.

thenetavenger said,

I get tired of kiddie IT people trying to state what 'enterprise' or 'business' needs or uses, when they only know their little company that hires them to hook up a computer to the LAN and ensure backups are running nightly.

I was just stating what I have experienced....that is all. Also, you have no idea what sized company I work for or have worked for. And that is all I will comment on since the rest of your reply is assuming how many users I support or what kind of work I do.

Have a good evening.

techbeck said,

In the business world, it is not enough. Where I work, there are several buildings in the campus. We have users that use laptops and are constantly walking between buildings and do not get back to their desks until the end of the day. 5hrs is not enough for them so we end up getting them extended batteries. Yea, some can argue to carry a portable charger, but a lot of times people are working around equipment where loose cables are not allowed.

5hrs is probably good for most personal/home users...but corporations may need more.

I agree. My laptop at work only gets 3 hours tops. A co-worker recently received a pretty decked out business class DELL. At first I thought it looked like an absolute brick of a machine, but looking up close it is pretty pimp. A lot of the thickness comes from a pretty thick aluminum frame... Way tough. My main thing I'm jealous of is the battery life. He says he gets about 8.5 hours.

We do a lot of all-day inspection type field work. Must be awesome for him. I'm usually tethered to a wall.

It might also be used for attaching an extra battery pack which could extend the battery life of the Surface Pro, which currently lasts for about half as long as the Surface RT tablet.

But still is on par with the Pro's competition.

MFH said,
If the competition are other slates with low battery life, then yes...

The MacBook Air is in the same class and competition - same processor, same memory, same SSD, but with a lower res screen.

MFH said,
If the competition are other slates with low battery life, then yes...

It gets around 5-6 hours, the competition for the pro are other laptops really.

nohone said,
The MacBook Air is in the same class.

It's not! The Air is an Ultrabook, the Surface Pro wants to be a cross between an Ultrabook and a Tablet (hence Touch and Stylus). These are not the same type of devices. Stop defending the Pro by comparing it only with Ultrabooks...

MFH said,

It's not! The Air is an Ultrabook, the Surface Pro wants to be a cross between an Ultrabook and a Tablet (hence Touch and Stylus). These are not the same type of devices. Stop defending the Pro by comparing it only with Ultrabooks...

By those standards my iTouch and the Surface Pro are in the same category. My PDA gets much more battery than the Surface Pro. Surface Pro is DOOMED!!!

Stop defending Apple by trying to force a comparison between two different types of devices (iPad and Surface Pro).

Why? It's an Ultrabook that can be used as a tablet when it's convenient. There's a reason that the Surface Pro has a Core i5 and not an Atom processor. Compare it to other computer's battery life: for its size and capabilities, it's at least on par with the competition. It humors me to see people compare an iPad to a Surface Pro; the moment you make that as an honest comparison is the moment that you don't need the Surface Pro because, clearly, you don't need a computer. Unlike the iPad, you can actually multitask (as opposed to the apps multitasking), and you can actually use separate applications to interact with the same cloud or non-cloud based files. When people realize that the iPad does not do enough compared to the Surface Pro, I generally see them compare it negatively to the MacBook Air. But, why? The Surface Pro can do everything that the MB Air can do--minus running Mac OS X of course--and it can double as a tablet whenever it proves more convenient.

It's a full blown PC with the added benefit of being a tablet whenever that is convenient for the user. You can even hook up the mini-DisplayPort connection to drive a larger monitor, and use the USB 3.0 slot to drive a USB hub for anything you want.

The fact that it has a stylus is a plus, and not a minus. If you don't want it, then don't use it. People that complain about the stylus simply have no used the Surface Pro with one. It works amazingly well for what it's intended to be used with: writing notes in something like OneNote. I have never used a Stylus that felt as nice to use on a screen while working as well with writing-to-text. Imagine the very best credit card machine handwriting tool that you have used: it's at least ten times nicer.

I don't mind if people simply don't like the Pro because they don't like the style of it, but it drives me up a wall to see people that have clearly never used one acting like it's less than an iPad and less than a MacBook Air, when it's at least equal to both. The only exception would be battery life, and that's a matter of running x86-64 compared to the iPad, and not having Apple's extremely good battery tech (I consider Apple's battery tech second to none) compared to the MB Air.

pickypg said,
It humors me to see people compare an iPad to a Surface Pro; the moment you make that as an honest comparison is the moment that you don't need the Surface Pro because, clearly, you don't need a computer.

You're assuming everybody who buys an iPad uses it as their only device. For most people that's not the case. Instead they use the iPad, which works beautifully (i.e. better than the Surface Pro) as a tablet, for their tablet needs, and a dedicated laptop (which, again, is able to perform that specific function better than the Surface Pro) for their laptop needs. That's the true "no compromises" solution, well, except of course for the fact that you have to buy and handle two devices. I certainly wish there was a way around that, but personally the Surface Pro would neither give me what I expect of a tablet nor what I expect of a laptop. But to each their own…

Admittedly, the iPad competes with the Surface RT. The problem is that MS has kind of created that expectation that the Surface Pro would make both a great tablet as well as a great laptop, and in that vein, people are comparing the Pro in so far as its tablet functionality is concerned to the iPad.

MFH said,

It's not! The Air is an Ultrabook, the Surface Pro wants to be a cross between an Ultrabook and a Tablet (hence Touch and Stylus). These are not the same type of devices. Stop defending the Pro by comparing it only with Ultrabooks...

Yea, I would tend to agree with this. Comparing a tablet with a dock against a netbook isnt a good comparison. Now, if Apple releases a hybrid OSX system, then the comparison would be sound.

Cross posting from another article:

One well known web site did a review of the 2012 13" MacBook Air, and gave it a battery rating of 5:34 hours. The problem is, the 11" MacBook Air, according to Apple's own data, is 2 hours less than the 13" meaning the 11" MB Air will get 3:34 hours of battery use. This web site, in their review of the Surface Pro, gave it a 3:59 hour time. Meaning the Pro gets 1/2 hour more on the battery than the comparable Apple product (when actually, the Surface Pro has a much higher resolution screen, which is a big drain on battery).

This web site gave the Surface Pro a score of 4 for the battery, and the 13" Air a score of 8. We know the Pro does better than the similarly spec'ed and priced model from Apple, but which one is the one that is criticized? This web site just said that the battery is not the best so if you want more battery, just spend the $200 to get the one with the battery.

CSharp. said,

You're assuming everybody who buys an iPad uses it as their only device. For most people that's not the case. Instead they use the iPad, which works beautifully (i.e. better than the Surface Pro) as a tablet, for their tablet needs, and a dedicated laptop (which, again, is able to perform that specific function better than the Surface Pro) for their laptop needs. ... But to each their own.
I don't assume that everyone buys an iPad as their only device, rather I assume that people deciding between buying only an iPad and a Surface Pro are. Out of curiosity, what can you do with an iPad and a dedicated laptop that cannot be done on the Surface Pro?

techbeck said,

Yea, I would tend to agree with this. Comparing a tablet with a dock against a netbook isnt a good comparison. Now, if Apple releases a hybrid OSX system, then the comparison would be sound.

It's up to people to determine their own criteria for comparison, but the comparison of the Surface Pro to the MacBook Air and iPad at least make some sense. The Surface Pro has specifications that are practically identical to a MacBook Air. In fact, the Core i5 is probably the same. It also has 4 GB of RAM, and it runs a full OS with similar hard drive sizes. Ignoring the internal specifications, the size and touch-friendliness of it makes it comparable to the iPad alongside the growing app store.

It's fair to point out the competition's shortcomings, and that's what the comparison really brings out, just as it's fair to point out the Surface's shortcomings. I have thought it since I have owned one--the iPad has very little purpose beyond being a web browser and entertainment device particularly because you cannot seriously multitask (e.g., Skype while browsing the internet). Looking toward the MacBook Air, there is not really too much negative to say about it. I own a 15" MacBook Pro myself, and not a MacBook Air, but the MacBook Air is a great computer that can do serious work with obvious limitations at heavy lifting (e.g., newer video games, graphics, or other similarly heavy system taxes). The fact that there is no crossover is Apple's weakness, and it's currently Microsoft's unrespected strength.

CSharp. said,

You're assuming everybody who buys an iPad uses it as their only device. For most people that's not the case. Instead they use the iPad, which works beautifully (i.e. better than the Surface Pro) as a tablet, for their tablet needs, and a dedicated laptop (which, again, is able to perform that specific function better than the Surface Pro) for their laptop needs. That's the true "no compromises" solution, well, except of course for the fact that you have to buy and handle two devices. I certainly wish there was a way around that, but personally the Surface Pro would neither give me what I expect of a tablet nor what I expect of a laptop. But to each their own…

At the price point you could get both a laptop and a tablet. Hell, even a MBA + iPad Mini is only a difference of $100-300 difference compared to a Surface Pro + one of the keyboards (depending on configurations and what have you). But if Apple don't float your boat, plenty of other combos available for a laptop+tablet combo out there around the same price.

pickypg said,
Out of curiosity, what can you do with an iPad and a dedicated laptop that cannot be done on the Surface Pro?

I'm not sure asking "what can be done" with the device is the best way to frame the question. It is for example possible to write a novel on the iPad's on-screen keyboard, or do computer programming on a 10" screen, use a laptop for reading books or operate the Windows Desktop UI by touch only...and so on, you get the point. So the question is more about how well a device is suited to what you're trying to do with it. Having said that, going by what the reviews have said and what is obvious by looking at the specs I would see the following advantages in the case of an iPad and laptop,

iPad:
- comfortably hold it in one hand due to its lower weight and thinness, plus 4:3 works better than 16:9 in portrait orientation
- use it for >10 hours on battery
- enjoy silent operation, without the device getting hot
- choose from a large number of high-quality tablet apps specifically designed for touch usage (Metro ecosystem isn't all there yet)
- every spot in the OS is designed for touch usage
- you don't have to worry about system maintenance or malware
- the OS isn't already taking up a large amount of space

As for the laptop, setting aside the potential for higher specs (cpu, memory, graphics, hard drive, battery life...) for a moment:
- larger screen
- high-quality keyboard permanently attached
- can be easily used on your lap without the device toppling over, plus you have a choice of display viewing angles
- high-quality trackpad
- possibly better connectivity (FW,TB,Ethernet etc.)
- possibly smaller footprint ( http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-...-on-macbook-pro-640x337.jpg )

would be my main points, or at least are the ones I can think of right now.

And I just want to reiterate though, that the Surface Pro appears to be a great device for what it is. In theory, it's certainly a compelling proposition. I'd love to combine my laptop and tablet into one device without compromises. In some ways the Surface Pro is even superior to both a laptop as well as an iPad (Pen input, handwriting recognition). I'm sure for some people it could even replace their laptop and offer enough of what they want from a tablet. But then there also exist people who are able to get by with an iPad only.

Agree:

CSharp. said,
iPad:
- use it for >10 hours on battery
- choose from a large number of high-quality tablet apps specifically designed for touch usage
- the OS isn't already taking up a large amount of space:
Laptop:
- larger screen

I'd pretty much disagree with practically all of the rest. Battery life will never suddenly appear in the Surface Pro (or Surface RT for that matter, which does have somewhat less battery life compared to my iPad) until a revision improves upon the battery life, but the app market will do nothing except improve with time. Of course, the OS space can be countered with something that the iPad cannot do: microSDXC, built-in cloud storage for everything that works with the file system, and removing the recovery partition (and the Office trial on the Pro)... the benefits of a full OS.

CSharp. said,
iPad:
- comfortably hold it in one hand due to its lower weight and thinness, plus 4:3 works better than 16:9 in portrait orientation

I own both an iPad and a Surface RT. Granted, the Surface RT is not the same weight as a Surface Pro, I have also held a Surface Pro at my local Microsoft Store with no issue. These devices are under two pounds, and hardly two pounds with the keyboard. The screen ratio comes down to preference, but given that 16:9 works so well with movies, I have yet to wish for 4:3.

I mean, I do work out, but I have no issue holding either device, but the Surface is actually designed to be put down unlike the iPad.

CSharp. said,

- enjoy silent operation, without the device getting hot

In using the Surface Pro--without hitting up any games or watching movies--I never heard the fan cut on. There are silent fans, which is why I rarely ever hear my MacBook Pro until it goes wild. I would suspect that it will be no louder than a MacBook Air, and likely no hotter than that or a Retina iPad, which does get noticeably warmer.

CSharp. said,

- every spot in the OS is designed for touch usage

I would say that's as much of a negative as it is a positive. For example, touch does not work with spreadsheets due to classic fat fingering issues. The Surface provides the option; apps tend to be designed so that you can try with your finger, and you can resort to a mouse or trackpad if you prefer. Pointedly, even with just my Surface RT, I will go back to my MacBook Pro to develop and try to touch my screen. That seems like a pretty good sign to me.

CSharp. said,

- you don't have to worry about system maintenance or malware

I update the software on my iPad and Surface RT more than my own computer. Beyond that, I mess with each equally.

The malware argument is marketing. The very things that people use to jailbreak their devices can be used to infect iOS devices. That's simply a cat-and-mouse game.

http://www.idownloadblog.com/2011/07/07/germany-warns-pdf/

CSharp. said,

As for the laptop, setting aside the potential for higher specs (cpu, memory, graphics, hard drive, battery life...) for a moment:

With the exception of RAM and maybe a 100 MHz, if you need a beefier computer, then you're not even considering an Ultrabook or an iPad, and the Surface is therefore not even in the running.

CSharp. said,

- can be easily used on your lap without the device toppling over

I have never had any issues with this when using my Surface RT. Not a single time. I cannot imagine the Surface Pro changing that.

CSharp. said,

plus you have a choice of display viewing angles

I agree in the sense that it is a fact when the kickstand is in use, but I must note that I have never had an issue with my viewing angle on my Surface RT.

CSharp. said,

- high-quality keyboard permanently attached
- high-quality trackpad

As long as you don't take off the Type Cover, then it too is a high quality keyboard that is permanently attached, and I love the Type Cover. I definitely type more slowly with the Touch Cover however. The Trackpad is not so great on the Touch Cover, but it works quite well on the Type Cover.

CSharp. said,

- possibly better connectivity (FW,TB,Ethernet etc.)

No one puts Firewire on laptops anymore, and Thunderbolt has sadly not been adopted as well as I had expected (I want to use it on my MacBook Pro, but I own zero devices that use it). Ethernet would be a nice-to-have though, particularly in environments where Wi-Fi is shoddy, or simply not available, but Ultrabooks tend not to use it because it takes up relatively too much space, and the Surface Pro is no exception.

CSharp. said,

That's disingenuous. That only applies if you open your laptop and leave its screen at a 90 degree angle. In fact, if one were desperate, you could use the on-screen keyboard and use a lot less space with the Surface.

MFH said,

It's not! The Air is an Ultrabook, the Surface Pro wants to be a cross between an Ultrabook and a Tablet (hence Touch and Stylus). These are not the same type of devices. Stop defending the Pro by comparing it only with Ultrabooks...

Why? Just compare it with others that use the same Intel processors.

mahara said,

Why? Just compare it with others that use the same Intel processors.


Specs alone don't define a category...