The Surface Go, Microsoft’s latest tablet that aims to be a smaller – and more attainable – Surface Pro has finally arrived. The Surface Go doesn’t bring any major surprises, but maybe that’s a good thing.
With the Surface Go, Microsoft is showing everyone that the best Windows tablets can be affordable – everything you love about the Surface Pro 6, just smaller and more affordable. No half baked operating systems – though Windows 10 S Mode is enabled out of the box – and no strange app compatibility issues. The Surface Go works from the word “go”, which is why we love the Microsoft Surface brand.
At first glance, the 1.15-pound (0.52kg) Surface Go appears simply to be the Surface Pro shrunken down by 2.3 inches 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 major hint toward the Surface Go’s intended audience is the rather prominent rounding of the edges and angles that Microsoft has applied to the device. Gone are the stark, angled edges of the Surface Pro in lieu of rounder, softer edges that help give this version of the Surface its own distinct identity.
Beyond that, this device is largely the same in design as its forebears, except smaller. The excellent hinge returns and can bend nearly 180 degrees like before, making this device an ideal canvas for digital drawing and note taking.
Microsoft still managed to cram a USB-C port and microSD card reader into the smaller Surface Go, neither of which the latest iPad has. This means that not only can this tablet’s storage be expanded, but it has two ways to hard-wire a dock and expand displays compared to the iPad’s single method, thanks to the mainstay Surface Connect port.
As for the new, obviously smaller, Type Cover, Microsoft manages to deliver full-sized keys (now with more pronounced curves) within a smaller amount of space, and has included a glass trackpad that’s larger in depth than that of the Surface Pro. All told, the Type Cover feels just as snappy as it has before – we would say ‘only smaller,’ but it doesn’t feel that much more cramped when typing.
That said, you will need to get used to a slightly tighter typing experience, especially when the device is on your lap. The keys are spaced closer together than normal keyboards, which alters exactly where your fingers naturally rest, so as to keep your index fingers on the F and J keys.
Otherwise, typing on the Surface Go is much more comfortable than on other 10-inch devices, which should be lauded. For what it’s worth, the iPad Smart Keyboard uses strange, completely round, keys and doesn’t even feature a touchpad – because iOS doesn’t support mouse input.
Display and audio
Still, though, the Microsoft Surface Go’s display is beautiful in everyday use. The display is extremely color accurate, and movies and photos look amazing on it. Of course, that 3:2 aspect ratio is great for work and web browsing, but gives full-screen 16:9 videos some wasted space with black bars.Advertisement
Like most tablets, the bezels around the screen are pretty large, but that just allows users to grip the device from any side without accidentally triggering anything on the screen. It also allows for the Type Cover to connect to the bottom bezel via magnet for a better typing angle.
Before getting too deep into details just yet, let’s make it clear that you generally shouldn’t buy a tablet or laptop for this price and expect a powerhouse. However, you should get something competent enough to handle basic workloads and casual games, and the Surface Go does exactly that – but not much more.
Software and feature
The Surface Go ships with Windows 10 in S Mode. Because this device uses an Intel processor, however, this is largely fine for day-to-day use. While the app selection on the Microsoft Store is paltry in comparison to the software available to download from the internet, at least the device can run every app designed for Windows 10 natively without issue.Advertisement
Windows 10 devices with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip installed can’t say the same, as their processor architectures aren’t compatible with how many Windows 10 apps were built. Windows 10 S might bring with it more security, but if you’re careful online (and have Windows Defender installed) you should be alright.
The Surface Go doesn’t have many other standout features to speak of, but we especially appreciate facial recognition login via Windows Hello. While it doesn’t operate in the same way, Microsoft has essentially beat Apple to bringing hands-free, secure login to its tablet.
Microsoft’s implementation here works fantastically, which is buoyed by a very good 5MP webcam and 8MP camera on the rear. The webcam shoots 1080p video that’s crisp and detail-rich, making Surface Go also ideal for video meetings. For comparison’s sake, the iPad uses only a 720p FaceTime camera.