Microsoft Surface Go Review

Microsoft Surface Go

The ultimate 10-inch tasker’s tablet

Microsoft’s 10.1-inch Surface Go is everything you love about the Surface Pro, only smaller. You’ll find no half-baked operating systems and no strange app compatibility issues here – even if it ships with Windows 10 in S Mode and has less raw horsepower. It’s just a smaller Surface that works.

Price and availability

The Surface Go is the most powerful version of the tablet Microsoft offers.

Design

At first glance, the 0.52kg Surface Go appears simply to be the Surface Pro shrunken down around 60mm on the diagonal, and that’s largely true – excellent kickstand and all. However, Microsoft clearly put some design effort into this version, opening it up to a larger audience, specifically students.

The first hint of the Surface Go’s intended audience is the prominent rounding of the edges and angles Microsoft has applied to the device. Gone are the stark, angled edges of the Surface Pro in lieu of rounder, softer edges that give this version of the Surface its own identity.

Beyond that, this device is largely the same as its forebears. The excellent hinge returns and can bend nearly 180 degrees, making the Surface Go ideal for digital drawing and note-taking.

Microsoft has also managed to cram in a Surface Connect port, a USB-C port and a microSDXC card slot, giving you numerous expansion options, including the ability to hardwire the Go to a dock.

As for the new Type Cover, it manages to contain full-sized keys within a smaller amount of space, and has a glass trackpad that’s larger in depth than on the Surface Pro. All told, the Type Cover feels as snappy as before, yet doesn’t feel much more cramped than with a regular Surface Type Cover.

That said, the keys are spaced closer together than on a normal keyboard, which alters where your fingers naturally rest, so as to keep your index fingers on the [F] and [J].

Display and audio

At 1,800×1,200 pixels, the Surface Go’s display isn’t the sharpest on a 10-inch tablet display by a long shot, with the latest iPad coming in at 2,048×1,536 pixels. Regardless, the Surface Go display is just gorgeous in everyday use. The display is incredibly colour-accurate,

As for the new Type Cover, it manages to contain full-sized keys within a smaller amount of space

and both movies and images look fantastic. Its 3:2 aspect ratio is great for work and web browsing, but gives full-screen, 16:9 videos the shaft with lots of wasted space.

Like most tablets, the bezels around the display are large, but that’s make holding the device easy from any side. It also enables the Type Cover to connect to the bottom bezel via a magnet for a better typing angle.

The Surface Go’s speakers also live within the bezels on both sides of the screen. For such tiny drivers, these speakers sound surprisingly powerful, deep and nuanced in the amount of channel separation they deliver. This makes the Surface Go as good a multimedia tablet as it does a mild productivity device.

Performance

The Surface Go, with its Intel Pentium Gold processor, can handle basic browser-based workloads, like word processing and content management, as well as the suite of Office 365 apps, with ease. With 8GB of RAM in the higher-end model, you could even run several tabs’ worth of projects and websites and media players.

Don’t expect this processor to handle high-res images or video editing and rendering in the same way that a proper laptop does,¬†though. That said, the CPU employs Intel’s HD Graphics 615, which isn’t far off from the integrated graphics inside the Intel processors used in gaming laptops. This allows the Surface Go to deliver some surprisingly powerful 3D rendering, to the point that Minecraft runs like a dream. Furthermore, education apps that use 3D modeling – particularly in the science field – run without issue here, as do Microsoft’s own Paint 3D tools.

However we suggest you install Windows 10 Home instead of sticking with Windows 10 S. The performance hit to the system with the overhead of full Windows 10 Home ranges anywhere from negligible to nonexistent, and there are more apps to choose from.

Battery life

Microsoft promises up to nine hours of continuous use from the Surface Go, although our tests proved that to be a bit of an exaggeration – we managed a maximum of six hours on a charge, and a little longer if the Battery Saver feature is used. Weirdly, the battery lasts longer with Windows 10 Home than with Windows S.

Summary

The Surface Go may be a niche device, but it’s a niche that’s only growing. With every major hardware vendor focused on smaller tablets, Microsoft has nailed the concept, once again showing the world how it’s done.

While the Surface Go could have just been a smaller Surface Pro, the truth of the matter is that the market is trending towards smaller devices – the Surface Go meets them head on with a full-blown, 10-inch computer.

We could complain about the lack of included accessories, that it’s technically less powerful than the new iPad and that the Go’s screen could be sharper. However, if you’re looking to the new iPad or another 10-inch tablet to be your next primary computing device, comparing them to the Surface Go proves what an excellent little machine this is. It’s truly a computer in every sense of the word.

KEY FEATURES

Microsoft Surface Go

CPU 1.6GHz Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y (dual-core, 2MB cache)

Graphics Intel HD Graphics 615 RAM 8GB LPDDR3 (1,866MHz)

Screen 10-inch, 1,800×1,200 (217ppi;¬†3:2 aspect ratio) PixelSense touch display Storage 128GB SSD Connectivity IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1; LTE optional; 1x USB-C 3.1; 1x microSDXC card reader; 1x Surface Connect port; 1x headset jack Cameras 5MP (1080p video) front-facing webcam (Windows Hello face login); 8MP (1080p video) rear-facing autofocus camera Weight 0.52kg Size 245x175x8.3mm

The Surface Go is a gorgeous machine that brings the Windows 10 experience to a 10-inch tablet.

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