What the experts are saying: Microsoft Surface Go review round-up

Ahead of the wider European release of the Microsoft Surface Go, we’ve rounded up a collection of reviews, thoughts and opinions from some of the most popular online tech experts below.

Feel free to click on through to the full reviews for in-depth conclusions, and check out the Surface Go European pre-order page for more information on release dates and pricing in your country.

The Verge on…

Experience:“What I wasn’t expecting was that the Surface Go would be such a joy to use.”

“If you stay within its limits, the Surface Go is perhaps the most delightful computer Microsoft has ever shipped.”

Design: “The sign of a good tiny computer is that you have to check to make sure it’s actually in your bag when you leave the house. And I have had to check several times — it weighs 1.15 pounds on its own.”

Type Cover: “Perhaps the biggest surprise is typing on the slightly-less-than-full-size keyboard. I found it only took me a few hours to get used to it, and I’ve been able to jam along without more typos that usual. It uses traditional scissor switches, which means that there’s good key travel. The keys themselves are slightly domed, which might help just a little with accuracy. The glass Precision trackpad is similarly good — just big enough so that you don’t feel cramped using it.”

Overall thoughts: “People who want a cheap computer would get a Chromebook or iPad, people who want a good PC for around $700 would find a full-sized laptop. Those assumptions are not entirely wrong.

But the wrong assumption I made is that the Surface Go fits into either of those categories. Instead, it’s exactly what it claims to be: a small Surface. Something about using it just engenders affinity, I enjoyed using this computer every day and was continually impressed at how well it multitasked. Sure, it commands a more expensive asking price, but in return gives you a better experience.

We don’t overthink the iPad Pro, which starts at over $800 with a keyboard. There’s no need to overthink the Surface Go, either. It’s good.”

Read the full review

Windows Central on…

Experience: “Microsoft has thought long and hard about how to get this device right, and the result is not only impressive, but it’s downright fun.”

Design: “It feels akin to carrying around a modest 200-page hardcover book. That weight is evenly balanced, and there are no creaks or weak points to speak of for the chassis.

“Everything from the buttons to the materials used on the Surface Go is first-class. Microsoft could have cut corners with Surface Go’s execution, it instead stands out as another outstanding and quality design.”

Screen: “Color accuracy is 99 percent for sRGB and 76 percent for Adobe RGB – slightly higher than the 97 percent and 75 percent, respectively, of the Surface Pro’s 12.3-inch display. Those are strong results for what is thought to be a budget Surface – or for any PC.”

“Aesthetically, the Surface Go’s display is outstanding. Colors are punchy, blacks look good, light bleed is minimal (if at all), and it just looks good with a 216ppi resolution.”

Surface Pen: “Using the Surface Pen with the Surface Go was 100 percent delightful. It’s fast, smooth, even, and is a momentous leap over the Surface 3’s experience. Combined with the size of the Surface Go, which lends itself to being held like a notepad and Windows Inking is the best it has been.”

Performance: “When you combine the Intel Pentium processor, Intel HD 615 graphics and that zippy SSD you get a quality “budget” Surface. To say it destroy the Surface 3 in this area would be an understatement.”

“Keep in mind the Surface Go is still pales compared to a modern Core i7 laptop, but the experience in using it for Windows 10, launching apps, and yes, even some mid-range games are without a doubt enjoyable. There are no lags, skips, or long wait times for Microsoft Office, Skype, or the Edge browser.”

Battery life: “The battery result was much better than I had anticipated, and I was surprised at how efficient the processor was at sipping power. On one evening I spent two solid hours using the Surface Go browsing the web, installing apps, using those apps, and watching videos on YouTube and Netflix. After those two hours, I still had 76 percent battery left, which is respectable.”

Overall thoughts: “The Surface Go is arguably the most fun Surface created yet. It’s adorably small, the performance is excellent, battery life respectable and it’s a great inking experience. It’s just enjoyable to use.”

Read the full review

Engadget on…

Design: “The silver magnesium case makes a return, and it feels as sturdy and polished as the Surface Pro. Nothing about the Go feels low-end. It even has the articulating kickstand from its big brother, which can open up a full 165 degrees.”

“More so than any Surface before it, the Go feels like a tablet instead of a PC. Its slightly curved edges make it comfortable in your hands, and it’s light enough that I didn’t mind holding it for hours as I read comics and caught up on my Pocket queue. It easily fits into slim messenger bags and doesn’t feel as burdensome as a typical ultraportable laptop, or even the Surface Pro (which weighs 2.4 pounds with its Type Cover). Most importantly, it does all of this while still giving me access to everything Windows 10 offers.”

Type Cover: “…Microsoft delivered another killer Type Cover. The smaller form factor takes a bit of getting used to, but it wasn’t long before my fingers were flying across the keys. Touch typists will appreciate how Microsoft shrunk down the standard keyboard layout, and there’s a slight curve along the keys to guide your fingers to them.

I had no trouble writing most of this review and long articles on the Go’s Type Cover. That’s more than I can say for Apple’s iPad Pro Smart Keyboard, which feels like you’re typing on a soiled sponge. I was surprised that Microsoft was also able to fit in a large glass-covered trackpad and that it feels just as good as the Surface Pro’s. It’s smoother and more responsive than most laptop touchpads I’ve used.”

Battery life: “In our battery test, which involves looping an HD video until the computer dies, the Surface Go clocked in at nine hours and 50 minutes, well above Microsoft’s nine-hour estimate. Of course, that figure will drop precipitously depending on what you’re doing. With my usual workflow, it typically lasted around six hours before the battery completely drained.”

Overall thoughts: “The Surface Go is the first Surface that can actually take on the iPad. It’s impressively thin and light, while also being a fully-fledged Windows PC.”

Read the full review

Tech Radar on…

Experience: “What you see here is what should have been the core conceit of every small Windows tablet since the beginning: everything you love about the Surface Pro tablet, only smaller.

Screen: “Color accuracy is 99 percent for sRGB and 76 percent for Adobe RGB – slightly higher than the 97 percent and 75 percent, respectively, of the Surface Pro’s 12.3-inch display. Those are strong results for what is thought to be a budget Surface – or for any PC.”

“Aesthetically, the Surface Go’s display is outstanding. Colors are punchy, blacks look good, light bleed is minimal (if at all), and it just looks good with a 216ppi resolution.”

Type Cover: “…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.”

Performance: “…The CPU inside 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 for some surprisingly powerful 3D rendering on the Surface Go, to the point that Minecraft runs like a dream on the tablet. Furthermore, education apps that use 3D modeling – particularly in the science field – run without issue here, as does Microsoft’s own Paint 3D tools.”

Windows Hello: “…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.

Overall thoughts: “The Surface Go may very well be a niche device, but it’s a niche that’s only growing. With every major hardware vendor focused on smaller productivity tablets, Microsoft has finally nailed the concept of the smaller Surface device, once again showing the world how it’s done.”

Read the full review

Wired on…

Experience: “…The new Microsoft Surface Go is an impressive device. It’s a cheaper Surface Pro-style tablet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll miss out on important features. While you can find cut corners, most folks who need a super portable basic computer won’t feel like they’ve been swindled.”

Windows Store apps: “I tried getting by with only grabbing apps from the store. You know what? I was pleasantly surprised at how far the app selection has come.

I was able to grab Twitter, Slack, OneNote, and even Plex for playing back media from my home server. And all told, Edge has come a long way since it debuted three years ago, letting me add my password manager and handling my typical sites without issue. Even Xbox Play Anywhere titles were available, and I was able to download and pick up Thimbleweed Park where I left off at home.”

Type Cover: “The keys are precise without feeling too flat, and Microsoft’s designers did a bang-up job minimizing some keys to keep the letters in the center big and usable. Even the trackpad keeps pace with its Surface brothers and sisters, offering up a slick, responsive experience.”

Overall thoughts: “I like using Surface Go a lot. I would have killed for a computer like this when I was in college. I’m so envious of today’s students! And I can’t stress this enough: Its reduced footprint makes it an ideal size for tossing in a backpack or messenger bag. No, it might not be the best computer for the money, but what it lacks in speeds and feeds it makes up for with pure charm.”

Read the full review

The Guardian on…

Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

Experience: “All in all it looks, feels and behaves like a baby Surface Pro, and that’s pretty much the point. The Go is a smaller, more portable Surface with the same capable, premium experience.”

Type Cover: “It costs at least £100, but the Surface Go’s Type Cover is a marvel. Despite being a little narrower than the full-size Surface Pro version it has a large, excellent trackpad, well-sized keys and a very satisfying typing experience.

Within 10 minutes I was touch typing at full speed, with a satisfying amount of key travel and the option to have the keyboard either flat on the desk or propped up at an angle. It’s one of the best typing experiences I’ve used on any compact laptop, let alone a tablet.”

Performance: “Overall, while the raw performance of the Surface Go in no way rivals a modern £1,000-plus laptop, or the higher configurations of Surface Pro, it is a capable little machine. You won’t be playing any graphically intensive games on it, or fancy trying to edit a movie on it, but browsing, using web apps in a desktop-class browser, Office duties and even photo manipulation in a proper image editor such as Affinity Photo are workable with a little patience.”

Design: “It’s also light and thin enough that you can chuck it in a bag and simply forget about it. Carrying it around instead of a 14in, 1.33kg laptop over the last few weeks really made a big difference to my back and USB-C means I can charge it almost anywhere when the 4.5 hours of battery isn’t quite enough.”

Overall thoughts:

The Surface Go demonstrates two things. The first is that budget PCs don’t have to suck – a cheap, low performance processor can do Ok if you pair it with other good but not top-of-the-line components. The second is that Microsoft can make really great PCs even at lower price points.”

Read the full review

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