Microsoft has set its sights on the iPad with the new Surface Go computer due to be released in August.
I use the word ‘computer’ because while the Surface range walks a fine line between tablet and laptop, I feel it leans towards the latter. However, the Surface Go breaks with tradition by opting for a tablet-like screen size of 10 inches instead of the usual 12.3 inches.
Microsoft’s chief product officer Panos Panay said in a blog post that the Go was designed to be “lightweight, productive, and accessible to more people”.
“At the approximate size of a composition notebook, writing on the screen feels natural and intuitive.”
And this makes sense. The 10-inch form factor will make it easier to handle when relaxing to watch a movie, yet large enough when you need to get work done. It’s also the cheapest Surface to date, starting at $599. While slightly pricier than an iPad or Chromebook, it has a full version of Windows 10 for proper desktop applications.
The entry-level model comes equipped with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. While not earth-shattering, this should be enough for light multitasking a loading a few essential applications.
Users have the option to expand the storage with a MicroSD card or use a cloud storage solution like OneDrive. It also comes with a USB-C port for charging and connecting peripherals.
However, the lower price does come with a few caveats. Firstly, the processor is an Intel Pentium chip that is built for efficiency, not power. This could present a problem for heavy multitaskers and those who want to edit photos and videos. We will have to wait for performance benchmarks to see if it is underpowered.
Secondly, the all-important type cover accessory, which transforms the device into more of a laptop, costs $199. To add insult to injury, the cover is only compatible with the Go, not other Surface devices.
This means if you decide to upgrade in the future you will be stuck with a keyboard you can’t do anything with. This is a big deal, as once you factor in the cost of the cover you are looking at almost $800.
I like the Surface Go in principle. The idea of an affordable, lightweight laptop is perfect for school and uni students who want to work and play in style.
But with the type cover added to the purchase price, it is simply too expensive for the specs on offer. The Go could be a winner if Microsoft reassesses the pricing or bundles the cover with the device.