Surface Go 2 first look: Can it challenge Apple’s iPad?
Most people only use laptops for web browsing and video streaming, yet a decent ultrabook will usually cost around a grand – not exactly value for money. The Surface Go 2 proves to be a cheaper solution.
While this is technically a tablet rather than a laptop, Microsoft offers a (sold separately) Type Cover that turns this system into a makeshift laptop, giving this little system oodles of flexibility.
The original Surface Go proved a popular hit, so it’s no surprise that Microsoft has launched a successor, featuring a slightly bigger screen and beefier performance. But with improvements arguably sparse, is there enough here to steal interest away from the Apple iPad?
Surface Go 2 release date – When will it launch?
The Surface Go 2 is available to buy right now.
Surface Go 2 price – How much does it cost?
The Surface Go 2 sees a starting price of £399, which is significantly cheaper than an ultrabook. However, the price rockets up to £619 when you opt for the more powerful Intel Core M3 processor.
However, if you want to use a keyboard with the Surface Go 2, you’ll have to buy the Type Cover separately, which costs a whopping £99.99 (or £124.99 if you want to add a splash of colour).
For comparison, the Apple iPad is available at a cheaper £349 starting price, but the official keyboard also has to be bought separately for a sky-high £159.
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Hands-on: Surface Go 2 review
The Surface Go 2 is a nifty little device. I’ve been unconvinced by the majority of non-Apple tablets, with weak performance and clumsy layouts, but the new Go feels like a genuine alternative for Windows fans.
It’s an incredibly light device, weighing just 544 grams. The flip-out stand means you can prop it up on a desk while watching Netflix or YouTube – very ideal for long flights.
It’s also got that typical Surface quality, with a sturdy and smooth metal casing. The stand seems pretty reliable too, so there should be no concerns about the device collapsing randomly.
The 10.5-inch touchscreen is actually a tiny bit bigger than the one found on the previous iteration. Microsoft has squeezed down the bezel ever so slightly for a cleaner and more modern look. I do think Microsoft could have made the bezel even thinner, but then again it’s nice to have screen space to hold that won’t interfere with the touch input.
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The only other significant upgrade here is the performance, with Microsoft providing two different processor configurations. Microsoft claims the 8th Gen Intel Core m3 chip results in a 60% performance boost compared to the previous Surface, but that will cost you £619.
The review model I have (retailing for £399) features the entry-level Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y, which is unlikely to offer much of a difference from the original device – although I’m yet to do any benchmark tests to prove that.
These minor improvements mean owners of the predecessor won’t find much value in upgrading here, but equally, these are welcome additions for Surface Go newcomers.
In all honesty, I’m not sure you really need a beefed-up performance, especially if sticking to Windows 10 in S mode. This operating system is optimised for tablet use, encouraging you to use apps from the Windows Store. I’ve flitted through a variety of apps at a decent pace and found no issue.
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But while Windows 10 in S mode offers superb usability in tablet mode, it also enforces a number of restrictions, namely restricting you to Microsoft-approved apps. You can still download the likes of Netflix, Spotify and iTunes, but browsers such as Google Chrome can’t be downloaded, leaving you stuck with Microsoft Edge.
Fortunately, you can switch to full-fat Windows 10 free of charge, which will allow you to make web-based downloads such as Google Chrome, but sacrifice the tablet-friendly operating system as a consequence.
If you do decide to switch to full-fat Windows, then I strongly recommend you buy the Type Cover. The tablet snaps magnetically in place incredibly easily and, while the keys are nowhere near the quality found with a proper laptop, they offer enough travel to be satisfactory for taking notes at a university lecture or typing keywords into Google. Anyone who regularly types out long essays will pine for something better though.
Related: Apple iPad 7 review
I’m pretty impressed with the Surface Go 2 from first impressions then. It’s true this is a minor upgrade on the previous iteration, but I’m not sure what more Microsoft could have done – there’s a lot less space for innovation with tablets when compared to laptops these days.
I’ll have to test out the battery life and conduct some benchmark tests before delivering a final verdict and review – which should arrive early next week – but so far, this is looking like a great option for those who want a device solely for casual web browsing and app use.
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