So you are at a store, looking to get a new laptop to get some work done on the go, or for school. There is a ton of options. You could either go for expensive MacBooks, cheap Chromebooks, iPads of various kinds, premium Windows laptops, or budget Windows laptops.
Let’s say you have a small budget. Chances are, you will most likely go for a budget Windows laptop, a low-end iPad, or a Chromebook. You don’t want an iPad as you don’t want to limit yourself to a mobile OS. Or a Chromebook and its limited selection of web apps and the small collection of Android apps that are properly optimized for the desktop.
That leaves you with budget Windows laptops. Right now, the only good options you will find are cheap Windows laptops from companies like Acer, Asus, Dell, and the like. These low-end budget Windows laptops have excellent prices, but you will be making a ton of compromises, ranging from quality to long-term reliability. And that’s where Microsoft’s new Surface Go comes in.
Surface Go is here to set a new standard for Windows on a budget.
With a 10-inch PixelSense display wrapped in a beautiful, light, rounded magnesium body, the Surface Go looks stunning for a $399 device. The device also includes other features you’d usually expect to see on premium Windows devices, including things like Windows Hello, a touchscreen, precision glass trackpad, and a good keyboard. For $399, you are getting a lot of premium features that you wouldn’t get on something like a cheap Acer or Asus laptop. And that’s exactly what’s so compelling about the Surface Go — at least to me.
Sure, the good keyboard and the trackpad comes at an extra cost of $100 to $130, but it’s worth it. It’s not a full-sized keyboard, but Microsoft has re-designed the Type Cover to fit the smaller 10-inch form factor, with a new scissor-switch mechanical, backlit keyset and 1 mm of key travel. Combined with the large precision glass trackpad, that extra money is completely worth spending if you need a keyboard with the Surface Go. But that doesn’t mean the Surface Go is useless without a keyboard — Microsoft says it has worked with some of its partners to make sure apps run well on the touchscreen. And it has even adapted parts of Windows 10, like Cortana, to offer improved interactions on the small 10-inch touchscreen.
Yes, the entry-level Surface Go is quite limiting with the 4GB RAM and 64GB of slow eMMC storage. But if you are just going to use it to browse the web and take notes, that should be fine in most cases. And a future-proof experience will require you to spend an extra $150. With the $549 Surface Go model, you are getting 8GB RAM and 128GB of fast SSD storage, which is more than good enough for any student or a casual consumer. Add the keyboard, and that brings the price up to $649. And that’s where things get a little tricky.
At $649, the Surface Go is essentially competing with Microsoft’s Surface Pro, and Apple’s entry-level iPad Pro. For $649, you may even be able to get a relatively powerful and high-quality Windows device from companies like Dell or HP, but Microsoft’s big bet here is practically on the entry-level Surface Go.
With the $399 pricing, Microsoft is not only providing a compelling, high-quality option for people with low budgets, but it’s also giving them the option to get more power at a higher price. The Surface Go is more about making Surface’s high-quality products accessible to more consumers, and the entry-level model does exactly that. Even at the base level, you are getting premium features like Windows Hello that aren’t usually included in low-end Windows laptops. More importantly, a ton of Windows laptops come with miserable build quality and poor plastic designs, and they struggle to even run basic applications. Microsoft’s Surface Go, on the other hand, doesn’t even look like a cheap tablet from the outside. Yes, it may be a bit limited in the inside, especially over the long run, but you are getting a higher-quality product that’s almost impossible to find anywhere else in the market.
Here is to hoping that Microsoft’s PC maker partners take the Surface Go as inspiration to adapt and improve their own low-end devices. Because honestly, there is a ton of room for improvement in this sector. I have tried a bunch of cheap Windows devices, and almost all of them have poor quality manufacturing; it’s embarrassing.
And that is exactly why I believe Microsoft’s Surface Go is the new standard for Windows on a budget. If you are looking for a cheap Windows device for school or to get some work done while on the move, this is the way to go. No pun intended.
<blockquote><a href="#290265"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></blockquote><p>So after the Surface Go is upgraded would you argue that such a device with 4GB RAM and 64GB of eMMC is adequate storage and power to effectively run Windows Pro and Win32 programs?</p>
<blockquote><a href="#290434"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></blockquote><p>So that's the standard for reviewing computing devices now? You just assume that the user is going to max out the peripherals and evaluate on that basis. So if you can add a 5 TB usb drive to a cheap laptop we are going to consider it a 5 TB laptop in evaluating its usefulness? </p><p><br></p><p>This is a discussion of the Surface Go as a budget standard, so let's stick with the base model and what it actually is delivered with.</p>
<blockquote><a href="#290433"><em>In reply to MikeGalos:</em></a></blockquote><p>Who mentioned a smart phone or not running full Windows? He compared full Windows laptops with the Surface Go. With the exception of tablet capability it's an Apples to Apples comparison.</p>
<p>Seems like most reviewers want to bury the lead: The fact that the Surface Go is shipped with Windows 10 S mode which it means it doesn't run Windows programs "out-of-the-box". Although you can upgrade to Windows 10 Pro (is it still free?) is the base model powerful enough to effectively run it? </p>
<blockquote><a href="#290374"><em>In reply to Havoc:</em></a></blockquote><p>1) Sorry, no revisionist history. UWP apps aren't "Windows programs" as they have been understood for decades. They aren't "universal' either but that's another story.</p><p><br></p><p>2) Windows Home has nothing to do with Surface Go. </p><p><br></p><p>3) If there was a narrow technical definition of "upgrade" we could argue about whether a particular process qualifies, but there isn't. Going from S mode to Pro represents a transition to more functionality and thus it's an upgrade regardless of the method used to achieve it. </p><p><br></p><p><br></p>