0   +   9   =  

Microsoft kindly lent me an 8/128GB Surface Go to see just how practical a 10-inch Surface is in typical everyday use. It was not the 4G/LTE version.

While the Surface Go review (here) is 100% accurate, it is over a shorter period. You don’t have time to become one with the machine – setting it up the way you want and for example, ditching Windows 10S!

The conversion from Windows 10S to Windows 10 Home is remarkably quick.

Then use my new best friend ShutUp10 to tie down privacy and stop all manner of things running in the background, and you are away.

I then installed Office 365, Norton’s Security Premium, Private Internet Access VPN, K-Lite Codec pack, Kindle reader, and various other tools.

That leaves about 92GB free. It idles at around 2% CPU (down from 12% before ShutUp10) and 24% memory (down from 36%) with Windows Defender using 174MB of that.

First impression

Small and light. In comparison to the original 10-inch Surface Pro, it is lighter and thinner. Bezels are smaller to allow the same screen size into a smaller body. And it fits so well in my backpack or for that matter my wife’s Tardis-like handbag.

Surface Go

Surface Go keyboard is a little more compact – the original Surface keyboard was a bit of a clunker.

Screen

The original Surface had 250 nits, and this is up at 400 – similar to the Pro. While the Pro appears brighter the Go has a nicer contrast – making it a good content consumption device.

A 3:2 ratio is good for productivity showing a well-scaled A4 sheet x 14 lines in Word – the Pro shows about 25 lines. Resolution is 1800 x 1200 – the Pro is 2376 x 1824.

Surface Go
Original Surface (left), Surface G and Surface Pro

One thing I miss when travelling is my dual monitor setup. I find 10, 12, 15” laptops just too small to do what I do. But even though the Surface Go screen is smaller than the Pro, it is about as useful.

Ports

Speaking of dual screens, it works with the $299.95 Microsoft Surface Dock that adds Gigabit Ethernet, four USB-A 3.0 and 2 x Mini DisplayPort. This plugs into the proprietary Surface Ribbon connector for charging (15V/1.6A/24W), video and data.

Surface Go

This also has USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 that supports altDP (DisplayPort), data and power delivery. It does not support Qualcomm Quick Charge (where voltage goes from 5-20V/3A), but a Quick Charge 2.0 or 3.0 charger will charge it. We recommend Belkin’s 45W USB-C PD charger or Cygnett’s massive 65W charger.  

Surface Go

Basically, as long as the charger can provide 24W or more of 15V power or even 12V/2.1A, then it charges fine.

We tested with a Laser AO-UCHUB8 USB-C multiport dongle and Laser USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, Power Delivery 2.0 Multiport Hub.

Any brand USB-C PD compatible dock or dongle should work, and you don’t have to worry about power passthrough if you use the Ribbon connector.

Surface Go has a 3.5mm analogue audio jack. It has a microSDXC card reader. We tested with a 256GB card, and it was fine.

Keyboard/trackpad

The keyboard is for convenience. It has 1mm throw and 40g activation. The main keys are 15mm square and well-spaced with half size Function keys.

Surface Go

In the review, I reached 80 wpm and 75% accuracy. After using it for an hour to write this article, I had improved accuracy but not speed.

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Wi-Fi AC is particularly good holding the AC signal long after other devices lose it.

Bluetooth 4.2 uses the standard SBC 24-buit/48000Hz codec and supports simulated 7.1 sound over headphones.

Battery

Remember we turfed Windows 10 S mode which is what all the battery life claims are made on. Microsoft claims 9 hours with an FHD video.

Loaded with Office, Norton etc., and then tuned with ShutUp10 in Home mode our video test was about 7.5 hours (in S-Mode we achieved 8 hours). That is pretty good compared to a Pro at around 5 hours.

In office use – Wi-Fi, BT, 75% screen brightness etc we got between five and seven hours depending on usage patterns.

GadgetGuy’s take – it has a place

I travel to and from the NSW Central Coast to Sydney Central by rail – about 1.25 hours station to station. My usual travel companion is a Surface Pro 12.6” screen and I play a couple of episodes of sci-fi to while away the time. When in Sydney or at home I dock it and it becomes my primary computing device.

I did not miss the screen real estate. At 10-inches it does video content very well. Certainly, a lot better than a 5-to-6-inch smartphone.

In productivity use, it was more than adequate. The Intel Pentium Gold 44157 processor is a two-core 1.6GHz – perfect for all office use.

The USB—C port gives this the edge over a Surface Pro – one dongle gives amazing expansion.

And finally, it is Windows 10. It works with everything – printers, NAS, video formats, music, networks and more. I tried to achieve this with an Android tablet and was unsuccessful.

Yes it can replace a Surface Pro for the right user.

Who is it for?

Given the right dock, it could be a work, home and travel device. It would be equally good for students and workers. My wife uses the original Surface as a Kindle reader, video consumption and occasional work device and it only has 2GB!

I would pay more for the 8GB/128GB version for two reasons. First, 8GB gives it the headroom to run more programs.

Second, the 128GB SSD is hugely faster than the 64GB eMMC. Given that we used about 25-30GB before downloading the music or video library the larger storage makes sense. Although with 64GB of microSD card costing under $20 well it may be attractive – $599 versus $839 – plus keyboard and Pen (if you need it).

We rated is 4.2 out of 5 and while I don’t see the need to change that let’s revisit the strengths

  • Small, light, thin and has a kickstand for desktop or lap use
  • Genuine full-fat Windows if you turf Windows 10S
  • Great screen
  • Does all a typical user needs (not for gamers or i7 users)
  • Great battery life and USB-C means you can use a USB-C Power Bank to charge it as well

Are there any downsides?

No if you know what you are buying and its limitations. It would have been perfect with one extra USB-C or USB-A port.