Surface Go Review Roundup: What Critics Love (and Hate)

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The first reviews for the Microsoft Surface Go — the budget-price alternative to the Surface Pro — are here, and they're mostly good. On the upside, critics are praising the tablet for its elegant design, light weight and sharp screen.

But while the Surface Go can go anywhere with you, reviews point out how its Pentium processor isn't fast enough for anything beyond the basics, and how it doesn't work well in your lap (much like the Surface Pro). Here's what critics are saying about the Surface Go:

Wired

In his review for Wired, Brendan Nystedt noted positive features carried over from the Surface Pro, but found the Go lacking in battery life.

"The screen is sharp (with an 1800 x 1200 resolution) and looked great when I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark on it." — Brendan Nystedt, Wired

The Good

"So, cut two inches off a Pro's 12-inch screen to make it a 10-inch one. What else was cut out? Surprisingly, not much. The screen is sharp (with an 1800 x 1200 resolution) and looked great when I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark on it. You get a Windows Hello facial recognition camera for impressively fast, secure biometric logins."

"I was able to grab Twitter, Slack, OneNote, and even Plex for playing back media from my home server...Even Xbox Play Anywhere titles were available, and I was able to download and pick up Thimbleweed Park where I left off at home."

The Bad

"The weakest aspect of the device, no matter what you'll want to use it for, is battery life. I was able to get between 4 and 5 hours comfortably from the Surface Go. That sounds pretty good, but compared to the competition it's actually fairly middling. An iPad can legit last you all day."

"For every good app like Netflix, Spotify, or iTunes, you'll find another piece of must-have software missing from the Microsoft Store. For instance, when it came time to hop on a video call, I found that there was no way to add Zoom to the browser."

"But my biggest reservation comes down to pricing: The base model is $399, but like in the past, you won't get a cover or a pen included."

Gizmodo

In her review at Gizmodo, Alex Cranz praised the Surface Go's optional type cover keyboard while warning users to expect little from the tablet's Pentium processor

"While other laptop and phone makers have gone to extreme lengths to shrink the bezel, the Surface Go has a big fat one that feels quaint." — Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

The Good

"The sheer mediocrity of the sub-$550 range of laptops is why the new $550 Microsoft Surface Go is so damn special. It’s a cheap laptop that’s actually nice."

"Battery life is similar to Microsoft’s claimed 9 hours (we got 8 hours and 5 minutes). The 3:2 10-inch display has a sharp 1800 x 1200 resolution that handles movies as beautifully as the pricier iPad Pro."

Surface Go Review Roundup: Pretty Good, Not Perfect

"Microsoft’s keyboard cover is better than Apple’s in every way. First, there’s the fact that it has a trackpad—the iPad does not. Also, the keys are backlit, and they’re snappy, too."

The Bad

"While other laptop and phone makers have gone to extreme lengths to shrink the bezel, the Surface Go has a big fat one that feels quaint."

"About the only thing the Surface Go doesn’t naturally do as well as my iPad is play quick games or load up pretty mobile apps. The Windows Store is nowhere near as polished as the Apple Store."

"Let’s be clear, you ain’t playing traditional PC games on the Surface Go. Opening Photoshop quickly makes it apparent that the Surface Go has a very budget CPU baked into its tiny chassis."

Engadget

Over at Engadget, Devindra Hardawar's review notes how portability makes the Surface Go feel like it can go anywhere.

"The Surface Go easily fits into slim messenger bags, and doesn't feel as burdensome as a typical ultraportable laptop, or even the Surface Pro" — Devindra Hardawar, Engadget

The Good

"Take any of Microsoft's previous Surfaces, shrink it down a bit, and you've basically got the Surface Go. The silver magnesium case makes a return, and it feels as sturdy and polished as the Surface Pro. Nothing about the Go feels low-end."

Surface Go Review Roundup: Pretty Good, Not Perfect

"Microsoft didn't skimp too much on the Surface Go's screen. It's sharp enough for text and graphically rich images, and it's bright enough to use outdoors in sunlight. Since the Go has a 3:2 aspect ratio, though, be prepared for black bars when watching widescreen video."

"More so than any Surface before it, the Go feels like a tablet instead of a PC. Its slightly curved edges make it comfortable in your hands, and it's light enough that I didn't mind holding it for hours as I read comics and caught up on my Pocket queue."

The Bad

"For one, the Surface Go ships with Windows 10 S, which limits you to apps from the Microsoft Store. You can switch to unfettered Windows 10 Home for free (which I did for this review), but that's still an added layer of confusion."

"The Pentium Gold CPU sometimes had trouble keeping up when I tried to load a complex web page with embedded video, or when OneDrive decided it needed re-synchronize all of my files. Basically, any task that's the least bit demanding would rocket my CPU usage up to 100 percent."

"I had to train myself not to think of the Surface Go as a full-fledged PC, but a tablet that could occasionally open up Windows 10 applications when I needed them."

Cnet

At Cnet, Dan Ackerman's review praises the design of the Surface Go, but warns users that in-lap usage is as fraught with trouble, just as with the Surface Pro.

"For a laptop alternative, the slate+keyboard+kickstand design still isn't especially lap-friendly." — Dan Ackerman, Cnet

The Good

"In real-world situations I found the Surface Go to be filled with pint-sized charm. During my frequent NYC coffee shop writing sojourns, it turned out to be the perfect size for on-the-go use, with the keyboard just big enough and the system powerful enough to run Google Docs and the other online tools I use regularly.

"It helps that the touchpad built into the keyboard cover is huge for such a small device. And that familiar touchpad and cursor interface works seamlessly with -- or instead of -- the touchscreen, giving you exactly the sort of flexibility lacking in the iPad or other non-Windows tablets."

The Bad

"The Surface Go starts at a very reasonable $399, but once you add a $99-to-$129 keyboard cover, a $99 stylus and maybe an extra $150 to double the RAM and storage space to mainstream laptop levels (from 4GB/64GB to 8GB/128GB), you're looking at a much bigger investment."

Surface Go Review Roundup: Pretty Good, Not Perfect

TechCrunch

In his review for TechCrunch, Brian Heater talks about the Surface Go's good looks before explaining that its keyboard isn't good enough for him.

"The lovely fabric covers that have been a hallmark of the service line are here … coupled with multiple matching peripherals … the Go can pass as a pretty decent fashion accessory." — Brian Heater, TechCrunch

The Good

"For Windows devotees looking for something smaller and portable with nice fashion sense, the Go is worth a look."

"The lovely fabric covers that have been a hallmark of the service line are here on the 10-inch model. That, coupled with multiple matching peripherals, means the Go can pass as a pretty decent fashion accessory to slip in and out of a hand bag."

The Bad

"The Surface line has long offered one of the best keyboard cases around, but it’s just not a proper replacement if you plan on using the product primarily as a word processing device."

"I’ve been using it a bit in meetings and still finding it tough to get used to it. The keys are soft and necessarily lack the sort of tactile impact I’m used to on my full-time laptop. There’s also the inarguable point that these kinds of devices really remove the “lap” part from the laptop equation."

Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
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