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Surface Go review: the portable office machine

Picture: TechnikNews
(Post picture: © 2018 TechnikNews)

A good two months ago Microsoft has the Surface Go presented. According to Microsoft, the device should be perfect for people who have a lot to do with Office or the like and are often on the go. I took a closer look at what the part can do.

Unboxing

I have already documented the unboxing experience in a separate article that I have here. linked again. Still, I want it all Proceder here briefly summarize again. In the largest pack was the Surface Go with a charger that was different than the Surface Pro does not have an additional USB-A connector, indoors. The medium-sized box contained the Surface Go Type Cover. In the smallest package, I found the Surface Pen for drawing, writing, and navigating apps and the operating system.

The amount of scope of delivery for the Surface Go is limited

Design, case and display

As soon as you unpack it, you notice that the Surface Go is incredibly light at 522 grams, thanks to the magnesium alloy the device is made of. Because it's so light, the Go didn't really stand out in my bag during the days at the IFA in Berlin. I could even do it most of the time proto carry with me in my hand without hesitation.

If you turn the tablet on its back, you will notice the main camera in the top center. This solves with eight megapixels and is really fine for photographing documents, for example.

The bottom half of the back is taken up by the kickstand, which you can already find on the Surface Pro and knows from the Surface 3. This can be infinitely adjusted and should protect the tablet from falling over. For all friends of numbers: The base can be folded out almost 180 degrees so that the Surface Go lies almost flat on the work surface. Under the kickstand is the slot for a microSD card, which can be used to expand the internal memory at low cost. What I noticed negatively about the kickstand was that it had a few micro-scratches despite careful handling.

There is a slot for a microSD card under the kickstand (picture: TechnikNews, 2018)

Continue with the right side of the device, where all connections are. A 3,5 millimeter jack plug, a USB-C port and the Surface Connector are available here. It is practical that you can charge the Surface Go via the connector and via USB-C. You can also connect the Surface Dock to the Surface Connector, which is available separately from Microsoft. On the bottom there are only the connectors for the type cover and on the left side you can attach the Surface Pen thanks to a magnet.

The PixelSense touchscreen on the front is 10 inches and was built in 3: 2 format. The resolution is 1800 x 1200 pixels, which means that the displayed image was always pleasantly sharp. For me personally, however, the display would be too small in the long run, as I'm usually used to a 15,6-inch display. Nevertheless, after a few days I made friends with the size. Nevertheless, the display could have been larger, as the edges around the touchscreen are relatively thick.

The Surface Go's display is pleasantly sharp (picture: TechnikNews, 2018)

To the right and left of the display are front stereo speakers. Although these sound totally okay, they still don't come close to the sound that the speakers in my Zenbook can produce. Above the display is the 1080p webcam, which in my opinion is okay for video calls via Skype. The resolution of the sensor for taking selfies is five megapixels.

The iris scanner for Windows Hello is right next to the front camera. With this you can log in EXTREMELY quickly if the lighting conditions are right - it often didn't work when the sun was shining too much. In the dark, however, the scanner always worked fine.

Accessories

Surface Go Type Cover

There are two important accessories for the Surface Go that I mentioned earlier. The first is the Surface Go Type Cover. Without this, in my opinion, it is unnecessary to buy a Surface Go, because you can only really work with it. The keyboard cover is available in several colors and designs. I got the platinum variant, which was also covered with Alcantara, which feels extremely good and high-quality. Typing on the type cover is very unusual at first because of the short key drop. However, this feeling goes away after a while. It is practical that the keys can be illuminated for working in the dark. The trackpad is a bit small, but does its job properly. My finger was recognized correctly at all times, and the gestures in Windows 10 also worked without it Protrouble. The keyboard cover does not have a battery because it gets power via the connectors on the underside of the surface.

Surface Pen

The second must-have accessory, in my opinion, is the Surface Pen, which is also available in different colors. I got the gray version though. To get started with the pen, you must first connect it to the Go via Bluetooth before you can start writing and drawing. The pen supports a total of 4096 pressure levels and also has palm suppression, which worked very well for me review. Writing with the pen also felt comfortable. Apropos "Writing": If you make a mistake, you can easily erase the mistake with the button on the back of the Surface Pen. Simply pressing this button launches the Windows Ink workspace, where you can create a quick note, among other things. Navigating through apps and the operating system also works great with the Surface Pen. For this I used the stylus most of the time. In terms of operation, I found it particularly helpful that a right-click is triggered directly by holding the button on the side of the pen.

With the Surface Pen you can write, draw and navigate through Windows (picture: TechnikNews, 2018)

Specifications

The Pentium 4415Y Gold from Intel works in the Surface Go. For the graphics unit, Microsoft opted for the HD 615, which also comes from Intel. The performance of the Surface Go is very good, as long as you consider which components have been installed here and only perform simple tasks - for tasks for TechnikNews or when consuming films, series and videos, there was never a drop in performance. For everyone who would like to know benchmark scores, I ran Geekbench. The CPU benchmark lasted about three and a half minutes, with the Surface achieving a single-core score of 1720 points and a multi-core score of 3884 points.

A 128 gigabyte SSD was built into my model as memory. However, there is also a model in which Microsoft has built a 64 gigabyte eMMC memory. The size of my memory was sufficient for my purposes. Data could even be copied from A to B without long waiting times. Personally, I would not even resort to the configuration with 64 gigabytes of memory.

In combination with the 128 gigabyte SSD memory comes the 8 gigabyte RAM. This size was sufficient for me so that open apps and Pronever crashed. In conjunction with the 64 gigabyte storage option, the RAM is only four gigabytes.

When it comes to battery life, Microsoft specifies nine hours with constant video playback. I can only say so much that I always got through a day of work quite well. Even during the IFA, the device never gave up before evening. It then takes about two hours to recharge.

Software

By default, the Surface Go runs Windows 10 in S mode. But what does that mean? This means that you can only install apps from the Windows Store, the Windows interface remains completely the same. Prothird-party programs can be downloaded, but cannot be installed and used. You can upgrade to Windows 10 Home for free via the Windows Store.

There isn't much to say about the software itself. It runs Windows 10 in the Version 1803, which I reported on last May. No bloatware was preinstalled either, which means that a lot of the 128 gigabyte storage space is still available to you at the beginning.

Summary and Conclusion

The second entry-level Surface has a lot to offer that nobody can deny. Thanks to its low weight, the Go can be taken anywhere - I often only carried it around in my hand during the IFA. The resolution of the display was sufficient to always display content sufficiently sharp. In addition, thanks to Windows Hello and the iris scanner, you can often log in in less than a second. I have absolutely nothing to complain about with the Surface Go Type Cover and the Surface Pen, here I was consistently convinced. Because I only did simple tasks with the Surface Go, I was also impressed by the performance; there were never any breakdowns here. I was also very happy with the battery life.

Moving on to the bad things about the Surface Go. The first thing on this list is the small size of the display. With thinner display bezels, Microsoft would have this Procan counteract the problem. I also didn't like the fact that the kickstand already had slight scratches. There is not much more to mention here.

Time for my final words. During my test phase, I was often asked what I use the Surface Go for. I always replied that it was my leisure and hobby device. Recreational device because I proeasily remove the Type Cover and stylus to watch YouTube, Amazon Prime or Netflix in bed. Hobby device because all of the articles I published during my testing period were written on the Surface Go. However, I would not buy this convertible because of the small display and the insufficient performance for me.

Prices and availability

The Surface Go has been available to buy from Amazon and Microsoft for almost two weeks. The version with eMMC storage costs 449 euros, the version with the 128 gigabyte SSD costs 599 euros. Added to this are the costs for the Surface Go Type Cover, which starts at 90 euros, and for the Surface Pen, which costs an additional 99 euros.

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David Haydl

David lives in Graz and has been there for around half a decade TechnikNews, also editor-in-chief for some time. He regularly provides the site with news, test reports and the like TechnikNews Weekly, which was his idea to launch. He likes to spend his free time outdoors, listening to a lot of music (and clearly too loud) and some podcasts on all kinds of topics, and also likes to go running. He enjoys the time that remains with his charming girlfriend or in front of the TV.

David has already written 1137 articles and left 106 comments.

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