Friday, 3 August 2018

The tiny Microsoft Surface Go is available now, and it’s an overachiever

The Surface Go, Microsoft’s latest 2-in-1, is now shipping. I’ve spent the last couple of days with it, and I have come away more impressed than I would have guessed. It’s a tiny wonder of a computer — with a few flaws — that can do more than I would have given it credit for before I tried it.
The base model of the Surface Go is $399, but the one I’ve been using is the upgraded $549 model. Those prices, however, don’t include the cost of the Surface keyboard, which is pretty much a must-have. The basic keyboard is $100 extra, but you should probably spring for the $130 Alcantara fabric version, which feels quite nice.
Speaking of springing for things: the upgraded version is probably a safer bet than the base model. It has more RAM for running multiple apps, and already, I’ve been sort of shocked at how much can be active at the same time. I’ve had eight or 10 (admittedly lightweight) apps going along with a dozen Edge browser tabs and haven’t had big slowdowns. Heavier apps like Chrome and Adobe Lightroom do struggle a bit more, however.
If I sound pleasantly surprised, it’s because, so far, I really am. Low-end Surface tablets have not been impressive over the years. The original Surface RT ran the doomed RT version of Windows, and the Surface 3 had a woefully underpowered processor. The Surface Go has a chip I didn’t have any experience with — the Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y — but it runs much faster than I expected. Of course, a proper Surface Pro with a Core i5 would do laps around this thing at heavier tasks, but for basic computing, this is sufficient.
The Surface Go ships with Windows S mode on by default, which means that you’re limited to Microsoft’s own Edge browser and apps available in the Windows Store. Though you might take a hit to battery life by running apps like Chrome, I strongly recommend you turn it off. It’s easy (it doesn’t even require a reboot), and it gives you access to essential apps that just aren’t in the Windows Store yet (or anymore, as is the case with the now-yanked Amazon Kindle app).

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