It's not just the price that's been cut, but there's still plenty to get excited about.
So, the rumours were true. Microsoft has indeed launched a budget version of its Surface tablet/laptop hybrid, and it’s being pitched by some as the company’s potential ‘iPad killer’. Certainly, the price is the standout factor in the newly announced Surface Go, a 10-inch Windows 10 tablet that starts at a lip-smacking £379.99 in the UK and is available to pre-order now, with delivery in August. Given that the Surface Pro starts at £749, the Surface Go is clearly targeted at a much broader audience than simply power users - in particular students and teachers.
Businesses and individuals are on Microsoft’s radar too, though, and this new price helps the Surface to seem a more viable proposition to iPad or Chromebook enthusiasts. Has Microsoft had to compromise to bring the device in at this value? Naturally, there are differences compared with the Pro device.
Chief among them is the processor, a Intel Premium Gold chip, which isn’t as powerful as the Core i5 or i7 processors found in its bigger brothers. The screen, too, is a step down from the Pro tablet, although the 1800 x 1200 PixelSense display isn’t too shabby. It also supports the Surface Pen stylus - more on that later. Storage options are a little different, with either a 64GB eMMC drive or 128GB SSD available (the Pro’s storage options go right up to 1TB), and RAM is either 8GB or 16GB.
Other important differences are the weight: starting at just 522g, this is much lighter than the larger Pro device (although still heavier than Apple’s similar-sized models). Battery life, which is again not quite as impressive as the Pro device, provides up to nine hours of video playback compared to the Pro’s 13-ish hours.
Front and rear cameras are the same, though, and the Surface Go is equipped with both wireless and Bluetooth connectivity. Speaking of connectivity, the device comes with both USB-C and Surface Connect ports, plus a micro-SD card slot and headphone jack.
Out of the box, most Surface Go users will be using Windows 10 in S mode, although users can choose to switch to regular Windows 10, but this can’t be reversed. Microsoft’s website also says that Windows 10 Pro will be installed on Surface Go devices for business.
To Surface Pro Or Surface Go
In Microsoft’s marketing of the Surface Go, there is a line that reads ‘Built for Office 365’, and this is important, as it identifies one of the key limitations of this lower-cost device. Aimed at a more mainstream market, this isn’t positioning itself as a replacement for your main desktop PC or power-hungry portable device. The Surface Go is, however, a potential companion device for any business user who still wants to take advantage of all the functionality Office has to offer, because although it's being primarily targeted at students, it opens up potential new opportunities for business users too.
Compact and offering a fantastically flexible tablet-to-laptop design, the Surface Go is being pitched by Microsoft as a laptop on the go and a desktop workstation in the office (using the Surface Dock accessory to view the display on an external monitor). Certainly, on paper, it has the power and potential to be that, but there is a catch.
To realise the Surface Go’s true potential, you’re really going to have to buy the optional detachable keyboard and mouse - plus possibly the Surface Pen if you’re so inclined - and suddenly you have a device that, while still impressive, isn’t as cheap as it first seemed. Of course, you have to buy these extras for the Pro device too, but it’s a point worth making from the outset.
The Surface Go isn’t competing with high-end laptops, and if you were already interested in purchasing a Surface Pro, then this isn’t offering anything that’s going to change your mind. Ultimately, your interest in this largely depends on what it is you want to do with it, and for basic Office needs and a general, albeit lesser-demanding, all-rounder, the Surface Go looks to be a fine option for business users on the go.
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