The back of the standard black Type Cover has an Alcantara finish, which feels great when you’re carrying it around and stops it slipping about on a desk or lap. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian
The speakers are good and loud, but lack bass as you might expect and get a little shrill at high volumes
The screen has a 3:2 ratio, which means movies and TV shows have black bars at the top and bottom but it’s great for productivity
My trackpad made a small noise when you lift your finger from its surface in the last third closest to the edge of the keyboard
Chrome still isn’t great for smooth finger scrolling, making Edge a better bet when in tablet mode
The Surface Dial works just fine on the desk but not on the screen of the Surface Go
You can really tell the difference between best performance and better battery mode, but you’ll only be using better battery mode when out and about and unlikely to try and do quite as much simultaneously just because of the smaller screen
Windows 10 Home doesn’t include Microsoft’s BitLocker, but does include device encryption, which is a must particularly for portable machines that might get lost
Windows Hello is simply great, logging you in by just seeing your face, and it works as well on the Surface Go as on the Surface Pro
The bezels around the screen are large, but didn’t bother me much aside from the slightly dated look they create
The Microsoft Surface Go costs £379 with 64GB of eMMC storage and 4GB of RAM or £509 with 128GB of SSD and 8GB of RAM.
The Type cover costs £100 in black or £125 in silver, blue or burgundy Alcantara.
The Surface Pen costs £100 one of five colours.
For comparison, the Surface Pro starts at £649 with an Intel Core m3 processor, 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and Signature Type Cover. Apple’s iPad Pro starts at £619 and the Smart Keyboard costs £159.
The Surface Go demonstrates two things. The first is that budget PCs don’t have to suck – a cheap, low performance processor can do Ok if you pair it with other good but not top-of-the-line components.
The second is that Microsoft can make really great PCs even at lower price points.
As a media-consumption tablet, the Surface Pro is OK, but not the best. It gets solid video-watching battery life, has good speakers and the kickstand is just great. But a lack of apps holds it back compared to the best-in-class iPad.
As a productivity machine the Surface Go is really quite good. It won’t be winning any performance awards, but it’ll get the job done with a little patience and give you a nice experience with it. It is far better than non-PC tablets at getting real work done, with a desktop-class browser and proper keyboard and trackpad.
It’s also light and thin enough that you can chuck it in a bag and simply forget about it. Carrying it around instead of a 14in, 1.33kg laptop over the last few weeks really made a big difference to my back and USB-C means I can charge it almost anywhere when the 4.5 hours of battery isn’t quite enough.
The Surface Go is a great little machine but don’t be fooled by the price. The £100 Type Cover is a must, which means the Surface Go actually starts at £479. You can get a lot more power for your money, but you’ll struggle to get as good an experience.
Pros: slim, light, great screen, great kickstand, good speakers, USB-C, Windows Hello, great keyboard, full Windows 10, microSD card reader
Cons: relatively short battery life, no USB-A ports, £100 keyboard essential, not quite as cheap as it appears, weaker performance