Back in March, Apple launched a new entry-level iPad, and it seems Microsoft took note. The newly unveiled 10-inch Surface Go is Microsoft's most affordable and most portable Surface yet, giving users a cheaper way to get the full Windows 10 experience on the go.
The Surface Go actually comes with Windows 10 S Mode by default, which restricts you to the apps from the Windows Store (and keeps a lid on power management at the same time); but an upgrade to the full Windows 10 is free and simple to do on the device.
Of course, knock down the price and reduce the weight, and certain compromises have to be made along the way – that's true for Microsoft, Apple, and everyone else who makes a laptop. The Surface Go is powered by an older, slower Intel dual-core Pentium Gold 4415Y processor, so demanding apps and games are likely to be off the table.
That's combined with 4 GB of RAM and a rather tight 64 GB of storage at the lowest configuration, though both can be bumped up if you're willing to pay extra. The 10-inch, 3:2 aspect ratio screen runs at a resolution of 1,800 x 1,200 pixels, which is again a drop down from the top-end Surface Pro.
It seems clear Microsoft is spinning this as a device for students and the budget-conscious, with that smaller screen and lighter weight (down to 1.15 pounds or 522 grams) making this a tablet you can sling in your bag and carry around more easily than the larger, more powerful Surfaces Microsoft makes. Think watching video rather than editing video.
The slate comes with all the usual Surface accessories as options, though they cost extra: The Surface Pen (US$99.99), a new Surface Go Type Cover (from $99.99) and a new Surface Mobile Mouse ($34.99).
We'll have to wait and see just how well that Pentium processor handles the demands of Windows 10, but Microsoft says it's worked with Intel to optimize the chip's performance with Windows and Microsoft Office. The company also says users will be able to eke out nine hours of battery life from the Surface Go.
There's also a USB-C port (a first for a Surface device, a microSD card reader), a standard 3.5 mm headphone jack, and the familiar Surface kickstand. A model with LTE capabilities is being promised later this year.
If you're sticking to checking email, browsing the web, and doing some light office work, the Surface Go should prove to be a capable enough device, and Microsoft seems to have kept the usual premium looks while reducing the price right down. At the very least, it now has a Windows tablet to go head-to-head with the iPad.
As for the Surface Go's most important spec, the starting price is a reasonable US$399. The tablet goes up for pre-order today, July 10, in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and several other European countries, with wider availability soon. The official release date is August 2.
You can see Microsoft's promo video for the new Surface Go below.
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