When the first Surface Go came, I was not that impressed. Even though the Surface Go was a well thought out 2-in-1, it lacked the raw computing performance and suffered from mediocre battery life. The new Surface Go 2 iron out issues I had with the original Surface Go, and that’s a good sign. Unfortunately, the Go 2’s pricing in India is on the higher side, putting it beyond the reach of most student consumers who could have benefitted immensely from a device like this. I have spent most of the week testing the 10.5-inch Surface Go 2, and here’s my verdict.
Microsoft Surface Go 2 review: What’s new?
On the outside, not much has changed about the Surface Go 2. It measures 9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33 inches and weighs 544 grams. The Surface Go 2 is built on the same design principles as the other Surface devices. This means we are looking at a machine that is identical to the Surface Pro — except the Surface Go 2 is smaller in size.
I like the idea of super-compact computing devices. A device like the Surface Go 2 is easy to carry and I can take it to work and file a story, even from tight spaces. The magnesium body of the Surface Go 2 has the same solid build as the Pro; plus, the Go 2 still has the brilliant kickstand on the back that extends up to 165-degree.
Think of the Go 2 as a portable Surface Go that can be transformed into a full-fledged Windows laptop with the optional accessories (more on this later). So what has changed on the Surface Go 2, then? Well, the new Surface Go has a bigger 10.5-inch display and slightly smaller borders around the screen. It may seem like a small change, but these reduced screen bezels give the Surface Go a fresh and modern look.
Microsoft Surface Go 2 review: What’s good?
The most visible improvement in the Surface Go 2 is the larger display. It’s a 10.5-inch screen with a resolution of 1920×1280 pixels. The touchscreen display is really nice — super bright and colour accurate. The 10.5-inch screen is not too small and not too big — it feels just right. The slightly larger 10.5-inch display (10-inches on the original Go) makes web pages more readable and I can easily edit images and view them. The Go 2 is also a great machine for watching movies. The tablet’s speakers get plenty loud, while consistently delivering a balanced sound. These are outstanding speakers without any doubt.
The 5MP front-facing camera and excellent microphones make video calling great. There is also an 8MP camera on the back, which I hardly used. There is no physical fingerprint scanner, but I liked Microsoft’s Windows Hello IR. Baked into Windows 10, the biometric authentication method lets people log in through facial recognition. It’s fast, and instantly lets me login into the Surface Go 2.
Performance is another area where the Surface Go 2 gets a big boost. The model I tested had the Intel Core M3 chip with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage (expandable through MicroSD). Before I started using the Go 2, I had certain expectations. While I never expected the Go 2 to match the level of the Surface Pro 7, this machine handled the tasks I threw at it so well that its performance surprised me.
Everything felt snappy, from editing images to playing classic games. The Surface Go 2 has enough power to handle an average day of work running multiple Chrome tabs, attending video calls with Zoom or Teams, chatting with colleagues on WhatsApp Web, and streaming music via Apple Music all day. The Surface Go 2 is also available with Intel Pentium Gold options, but it would be not right for me to comment on those variants since I have not used them. I believe the base variant of the Go 2, the one with the Intel Pentium processor should be fine for those who primarily use their machines for watching videos, browsing the web, or editing photos.
Battery life is decent, but I never got 10 hours of juice as claimed by Microsoft. On average, the Surface Go 2’s battery lasted close to 5 and a half hours with the tablet’s Type Cover connected to it. If you keep the brightness below 50 per cent, I think the battery will last slightly longer.
In my week-long testing, I made sure I used the Surface Go 2 both as a tablet and a productivity machine. Apps like Netflix work fine on the Surface Go 2; unfortunately, the tablet misses a number of multimedia apps. But it’s not the fault of the Surface Go 2, the problem lies with the Windows 10 store. Microsoft knows this well and which is why it is leaning heavily on making the Surface Go 2 a productivity machine.
With the Type Cover, the Surface Go 2 transforms into a proper laptop. The backlit keyboard attaches to the Surface Go 2 and delivers a satisfying typing experience. The keys are well-spaced and the trackpad is much better than I expected. The Type Cover does not come as part of the package, but I definitely recommend buying the keyboard as soon as you buy the Surface Go 2. Then there is the Surface Pen, which I don’t think is a must-have.
Microsoft Surface Go 2 review: What’s not good?
One big caveat of owning the Surface Go 2 is that you have to live with the limited connectivity ports — the Surface Go 2 comes with just one USB-C and one 3.5mm headphone jack. I think Microsoft could have fit a USB-A port on the side of the tablet. That would have given the Surface Go 2 an edge over the iPad. I really don’t know why Microsoft made this sacrifice.
Microsoft Surface Go 2 review: Should you buy it?
The Surface Go 2 is fast (at least the model I tested), portable, and the speakers are loud. For me, the Surface Go 2 shines because of its form factor and solid performance. I see the Surface Go 2 as the perfect device for someone like a blogger or author. While the Go 2 ships with a “real” desktop operating system — Windows 10, it is hard for me not to look at the new iPad Air. Not only is it priced on a lower side but the iPad Air is a better tablet any day. That said, the Surface Go 2 still fascinates me, despite being priced on a bit higher side in India.