Let’s have a hype-free look at Microsoft’s new Surface Go tablet, Microsoft’s pricing tricks, how to buy and which model. Also your Microsoft Office options with the Surface Go.
What is it?
Surface Go is clearly targeting the Apple iPad with the advantage of being able to run ‘real’ Microsoft Office.
Photo from Microsoft. Retail price for this configuration is US$673 or $823 for the 8GB/128GB model.
It has a 10″ screen (1800 x 1200, 217 PPI resolution) with 10 point multi-touch. For comparison the 9.7″ iPad 2018 has better specs, 2048 x 1536-pixel resolution at 264 PPI.
The back has the nice ‘flip out’ panel that lets the Surface Go stand up.
As you’d expect, Wifi, Bluetooth, front and rear cameras, microphone, speakers.
Microsoft claims 9 hour battery life for the Surface Go. Any battery claims from any maker should be taken for a pinch/pillar of salt. Also remember that the non-replaceable battery will lose capacity over time.
There’s a USB-C socket which allows plenty of options for fast accessories. The 3.5mm headphone socket is also welcome.
Storage is either 64GB or 128GB but Windows itself takes up some of that advertised space. There’s also a microSDXC socket so there’s the possibility of adding a second ‘drive’ for additional storage. Microsoft promotes the use of cloud storage like OneDrive but that’s not always practical.
TPM 2.0 means that Bitlocker can be easily added for better drive security.
Check out the full technical specs.
Surface Go is just the tablet device. The combination cover/keyboard and mouse are extra and a LOT extra. If doing a price comparison with a laptop, you need to include the add-ins.
Surface price tricks continue
Microsoft continues to fool the media and public with their pricing of Surface products. They show Surface devices with a keyboard and sometimes mouse. However, the headline price does NOT include the keyboard or mouse.
The much quoted price for Surface Go is US$399 or £379 in the UK but that’s without US$130 / £100 extra for the ‘Type Cover’. That’s a 32% increase in price for a keyboard that’s, frankly, isn’t very good for regular typists.
Add another $35 for the Surface mouse and $100 for the Surface Pen.
The full kit with cover/keyboard, mouse and digital pen raises the ‘cheap’ $399 price to $673. The 8GB/128GB model goes from $549 to $823.
Which Microsoft Office on Surface Go
Surface Go comes with the limited Windows 10 S which only allows Windows 10 apps (not external programs) will be able to run either:
- Office Mobile apps (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) or
- Office 2016 for Windows via the Microsoft Store (Office 365 plan required)
Or you can convert Windows 10 S mode into full Windows 10. Once you’ve done that, regular Office 2016 for Windows can be installed in the usual way.
Surface Go comes with a single month of Office 365 Home. If you buy a Surface device, take advantage of the ‘free’ month but don’t get caught paying high prices. Microsoft uses that ‘free’ Office 365 option to trick customers into more expensive options like monthly payments or buying annual Office 365 direct from Microsoft.
What to do before buying a Surface Pro
Ideally try out a Surface Pro for yourself in store.
See how the TypeCover keyboard works for you because many people don’t like it’s feel. Keyboards can be a very personal thing, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time typing.
Try out the Surface Pen to see how well it works for you. Can you easily draw or handwrite with it? Any lag or parallax error? The Microsoft TypeCover does NOT include a holder for the Surface Pen. In our experience, any tablet cover needs to securely hold an expensive digital pen, it’s too easy to lose otherwise.
You should be able to cut the cost and get better accessories by waiting for third-party options with better keyboards and pen holders. That’s what savvy Apple and Surface customers do.
We’re very much inclined to the 8GB memory / 128GB model. Modern software, especially browsers and Outlook for Windows use a lot of memory. A 4GB Windows 10 machine will work, but it’ll run a lot more smoothly with 8GB, we changed our hardware recommendations in Windows 10 for Microsoft Office users to prefer 8GB as a minimum for Windows 10 with Office.
Similarly, a 64GB drive isn’t a lot once you’ve installed Windows 10, Microsoft Office and other software. Photos and videos can take up a lot of space. Microsoft’s loves to talk about using OneDrive to extend Surface device storage but that’s not always possible or practical. The 128GB model is the better choice in our view.