Microsoft manages to offer, in a very compact format, a real PC of just 500 grams that can really accompany you everywhere, whether in your leisure time or at work. Too bad the keyboard is optional and that the connection is so thin.
Looking at Microsoft’s new Surface Go, it’s hard not to think of an iPad. Same format or almost, the same big black screen contours (iPad 1 and Air), approaching weight, etc. The rear design is more angular, there is a mechanical part (an easel), we can add a Micro SD memory card (hello Apple!), Etc. but overall, both devices are similar in appearance. The major difference is obviously in the system that propels the device: a really good Windows 10. Microsoft has found its answer to the iPad with its Surface 10 inches?
Construction And Finishes
Less prone to the volume constraints of conventional industrial PC world, the division “hardware” of Microsoft has always had the luxury of healing the few devices it has launched. Over the course of the iterations, the Redmond company has acquired a lot of know-how, so much so that the comparisons with Apple are not exaggerated: the fit of the parts is perfect, the touch of the keys on / off and volume +/- on the top is excellent and the matte metal of the most beautiful effect. The foot of the easel is, for the first time in the Surface, devoid of notches and adjustable at leisure about 170 ° which makes it more convenient than that of his ancestors.
This beautiful bill has a setback. For a while now, Microsoft is badly pinned by iFixit for the impossibility of repairing the surface in case of the problem, breakage, etc. An identical finding with this Surface Go. Of course, the computer, in general, tends to ever finer devices, with components all welded to the motherboard, but that’s not because it is the choice of the majority of the industry that we must salute him. And given the thickness of the machine (8 mm), it does not seem inconceivable that engineers can set up slots to change RAM and/or SSD (M2240 format is as small as a bar of RAM). It’s less a problem of engineering than of will, and that’s what we’re blaming for the entire industry, not just Microsoft.
We Can Really Work With
Why offer an iPad format device under Windows 10? To take advantage of an operating system (OS) cut from the outset for work and not the consumption of media – yes, we can work with an iPad, but the OS is less suitable than Windows or Mac OS. The 10-inch format is obviously less pleasant to work longer than a 13-inch PC, but we were surprised by the comfort that this small machine can offer. This contract is filled thanks to the quality of its screen – the definition of the 1800 x 1200 pixel slab offers good readability of characters, even with accents – and the quality of its keyboard.
If its performance is not extraordinary – the Pentium 4415Y clocked at 1.6 GHz is not a monster, far from it – this is large enough not only in everyday life but even for occasional “heavy” manipulations. We were able to choose, develop, crop, export and resize 26 Mpix files from Fujifilm X-T3 with Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC to illustrate this article. Yes, it took a while for the software to launch and exports took longer than with a big Core i7, but nothing very disabling for a nomadic use.
Huge Library (And Toy Library)
The strength of Windows is the huge repository it has. With Windows 10, you can still run old programs, either through native Windows emulation (compatibility mode) or through software tools like DOSBox. Old utilities that are difficult to do for some uses – I love Antrenamer and Faststone Viewer – through software a little dated but still working (my old Antidote 8 me for example). Not to mention the Office suite, creative software (Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC work great) and of course … video games. Unbeatable also in this area, Windows is the platform richest in titles.
If the processor-integrated graphics – a poor HD Graphics 615 – is not able to run the best 3D games in Full HD at 60 frames per second, Windows has a huge catalog: unless you swear that by the most resource-intensive titles, any small PC like this Surface Go can be used to play, whether old titles that are found on Good Old Games or light independent games. Personally, the pleasure of being able to play Baldur’s Gate – Remaster or Torment: Tide of Numenera, in mobility, on “tablet”, without having to buy the title on Android or iOS is a real plus. Not to mention the amazing Into the Breach!
Without the keyboard, Surface Go can be used as an iPad. If Windows 10 is logically less efficient than iOS or Android, the “Tablet Mode” of the OS does the job and the Windows Store applications such as Netflix work just like any computing device (offline mode, presentation, etc.).
The quality of the ergonomics will obviously depend on the nature of the applications – Paint 3D supports the pinch/zoom which is not the case of old Paint – and their age. Old software and their small icons are not there to make the job easier, but we’re still doing it – thanks to the virtual keyboard that appears when the physical keyboard is detached.
From a play point of view, the right click on the screen is not always correctly supported and the touchpad and its buttons may be required. Without being a gaming machine, the Surface Go has access to enough interesting titles in the PC world to have fun and at a lower cost.
Owner Loader: A Heresy Of The Twentieth Century
The Surface Go takes advantage of the same charging socket as the old Surface models, a kind of 3 cm wide machine designed with “feet”: owner, rather fragile, not easy to dig up when lost (and expensive). A choice legitimized by the fact that Microsoft intends to allow its users to enjoy their old chargers. An excuse just acceptable: we understand the reason, but at a time when most smartphones, most tablets, and many computers are switched to USB-C (like the entire range Xiaomi … or Apple! we say we swim in the middle of the 20th century. While the USB-C is not enough for large gaming laptops that shoot 350 W, but in the case of our Surface Go, even the charger of our Google Pixel C tablet is enough.
Good surprise: the only USB-C socket can also charge the tablet! Why not have two (or three) outlets of this type? A supplement taken would have extended the working comfort of the users by allowing the transfers of a key USB / memory card towards a hard disk, by limiting the number of chargers to take away (a beefy-C for the surface and the telephone) etc. Let’s hope that Microsoft hears our complaints and abandons its stuff in favor of (many) USB-C 3. For Surface Go 2?
The Surface Go is not a marathon runner: 6h29 in Full HD video endurance h264 (5:25 in h265) and 6h38 in our versatile test. In real life, these 6h and wheelbarrows are accessible without too much force when you do not use software too greedy. With Lightroom CC, a fortiori in RAW processing, this endurance will have to be largely revised downward.
For intense use count 4h, moderate 5h, consultation mode 6h. It’s not huge, but in the case of a plane trip, a powerful external battery (which can come out 15W) can completely power Surface Go – the advantage of the Pentium Gold 4415Y is that it is a low-energy platform, the screen is probably the element that eats the most.
Super Keyboard (But Expensive)
The detachable keyboard “Type Cover” and its integrated touchpad are a huge surprise: not only the keys offer a nice typing for the format, but in addition, they are backlit. We can work efficiently and copy: this article and our handling of the Fujifilm X-T3 have been fully written, illustrated and mounted in our (awful) back-office with the small Surface Go and often in the plane.
These two aforementioned articles were written entirely (or almost) during flights in Europe, a feat made possible not only by the small size (and lightness) of the set but also by the effectiveness of the Type cover. An accessory whose touchpad offers a touch worthy of very good PCs, which is not anything…
In advertising, the Surface Go is always put forward with the enticing promise “from 449 euros”. Do not go four ways: if this starting price is not a lie – the machine exists – it is a mirage. The basic configuration is inefficient with only 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of eMMC storage, a low-speed flash memory format. Too fair for everyday use and not at all cut to ensure in time.
The configuration we wanted to test was the version equipped with 8 GB of RAM and 128 of SSD, a PCIe version faster than the eMMC. Great good took us to ask this configuration: it is beside the only one which has the park of loan press of Microsoft. Indirect proof, if it needed one, that it is the best version to put forward in the tests… The problem with this model? It is more expensive: 599 euros.
A rate too high? Not exactly: if the keyboard was included we think it would be a great deal – it’s been years since we dreamed of a “serious” device running Windows and able to slip into any bag. The problem is that the keyboard is purchased as an option and the bill is heavy: 99 to 129 euros depending on the model. In the case of our test configuration, the addition amounts to 728 euros. Far from the promise of ads at “449 euros” … and that’s what we blame Microsoft: make ads to 449 euros while pushing readers – and therefore potential consumers – the results of more expensive machines.
If you put this promise aside and evaluate the product against the backdrop of its services – offer a 522g tablet (764g with Type Cover that weighs 242g) that can be turned into true PC to (actually) work, so the price of 700 euros seems much more acceptable. Even downright affordable if you are looking for alternatives: an iPad Pro 10.5 inches with 64 GB costs 739 euros … without a keyboard!