Microsoft Surface Go 2
The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is the go-to device for people who primarily need a Windows tablet for casual use, one which they can also easily convert to a laptop for even more productive use.
In tablet mode, this device is as easy on pocketbooks as it is on the eyes. But the price trajectory will drastically change course as soon as you start to gear it up with its full complement of accessories. Throw in the Keyboard-integrating Type Cover, the Surface Pen, or any other higher-end hardware component into the mix, and the price ceiling starts edging upwards until it hits the roof.
The helpless resignation that accompanies the pricing of this device stems from knowing that only by fully kitting it up will you really be able to maximize its full potential. And even then, it won’t exactly blow your mind or your workload away with its performance by any stretch of the imagination.
Our review model (base model) is equipped with 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y dual-core processor. These are conservative specs that make it best suited for use in classrooms or for light workloads. Chief among Its highlights are its impressive rear and front cameras, then there’s decent audio, a brilliant screen, and an enduring battery to work with. It is left for buyers to decide if all of these specs are worth splashing the cash on.
Design and Appearance
Wrapped in magnesium alloy and curved in all of its edges, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 goes all out with the looks that accentuate its svelte profile. It is a tablet first, with a 3:2 aspect ratio and a fairly slim but symmetrical bezel surround at the screen.
As for the Type Cover, it incorporates a keyboard that comes in a host of color options, ranging from Poppy Red, Ice Blue, Platinum, and Black, in exchange for $129.99 of course. It magnetically latches on to the bottom of the screen and snaps the Surface Go 2 to a laptop in no time.
Then there’s the built-in kickstand that attaches to the back of the screen, allowing for a 135-degree rotation of the screen for a variety of viewing angles.
Its heel may inadvertently dig into your skin when placed on your lap, so this device will most likely spend chunks of its life cycle pinned to a desk. It does weigh in at 1.2 pounds, and with a physical dimension of 9.65 inches x 6.9 inches x 0.33 inches, same as with the Surface Go, this is one device that can be taken on a roll.
Ports and Connection
If we’re to go by laptop standards, then the Surface Go 2 is a little shy of ports, although it becomes less of a bitter pill to swallow when you consider that it is primarily designed as a tablet. It does feature a USB-C port to the right of the screen, an apt provision that can serve as an alternative means of charging, as well as a medium for high-speed transfers.
Joining in the fray at the right-hand side is a headphone jack and the surface connector that plugs into the devices’ charger. Then there is a MicroSDXC card slot tucked away beneath the kickstand, as well as the power button and the volume rocker mounted at the top of the screen.
For internet connectivity, the base configuration of this device is equipped with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 features. Their width of coverage and depth of penetration is up to scratch for regular internet access. But if you can afford a few more bucks, a version of this device comes with a nano sim card tray for LTE 4G connection, providing mobile cellular data for roaming the internet on the go and in a snap.
Keyboard and Input devices
While the Type Cover serves to protect the screen from the impact of bumps and scratches that come about as the device is lugged around, it also integrates a keyboard and a touchpad for what is the core of this devices’ input ensemble. You can also use the Type Covers from previous Surface devices, and it will work just as fine.
For the keyboard, its skimpy physical dimension and lightweight profile will not allow for full-sized and well-spaced keys. What it can afford is a trio of backlighting levels and a short but passable travel distance, as well as a firm press that is accompanied by loud feedback. All of these make for a pretty decent typing experience, for as long as you can work around the flex of the keys. This niggle is a result of the slight uplift that is afforded by the Type Cover’s keyboard deck as it latches on to the display.
On the other hand, the touchpad occupies a footprint of 3.8 x 2.2 inches with a surface that is smooth and very sensitive. It gets an ample fill of pressure points that will sniff out the scent of your fingers and fire off in a bit. And with the full complement of windows gesture support, there is enhanced ease of navigation with the touchpad. Whether you’re scrolling down web pages or swiping across rows of spreadsheets, the touchpad is wired to lead you on.
The surface pen is the last piece of the input ensemble. It gets a fair share of pressure levels and is well suited for making vivid impressions on the equally sensitive touchscreen. But you should take note that it is priced and purchased separately, as is almost every other accessory that is associated with this device.
The Audio on the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is pretty decent, to say the least. The volume will not break any bounds, and neither will the bass, but it will still suffice for watching movies and listening to music and podcasts. A built-in Dolby audio-supported dual-stereo speaker setup is responsible for the sounds that are rolled out, and the quality of the delivery does not disappoint by any stretch.
The visual output from the LCD touchscreen of our review device is largely clear and vibrant, giving out text and imagery that are crisp and colorful for the most part. A 220 PPI value ensures that the glut of pixels( 1,920 by 1,280 pixels) dotting the modest 10.5-inch screen will not churn out blocky or blurry visuals, while an IPS panel accounts for a variety of feasible viewing perspectives.
The 400 cd/m² of brightness will make for a pleasant viewing experience, and with a 107% coverage of the sRGB spectrum, there is a rich palette of colors to work with on the screen. Throw in a refresh rate of 60Hz and you get a slight damper on the transit speed and response of the display. And while the glossy screen finish will appear to slightly enhance the details of the on-screen content, it will also inadvertently lead to a dwindling of the displays’ clarity in sunlit spaces and in other outdoor surroundings where the screen is subjected to reflection from direct light sources.
And to what is arguably the best part, a 1080p 5mp webcam holds sway at the top of the screen, with its Windows Hello feature allowing for snappy system unlock via a facial recognition provision. The visuals that it projects are mostly sharp and clear, your conversations over skype will be smooth and vivid, devoid of grainy patches and screen flickers that are the bane of most webcams.
The Intel UHD Graphics 615 card is a low-end integrated graphics unit without dedicated graphics memory and an eDRAM cache, and so it can only meet up with our low expectations in the quality of output that it delivers. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is not the device for serious graphics work in the mold of 3D rendition or application of special effects. So any task that involves any degree of advanced shading and texturing will be a chore or an outright hard pass.
But if you intend to use this laptop for basic photo editing, less intensive graphic design works as well as some light, low-end gaming, then you’ll not be out of place.
Although this device will not shy away from the occasional sessions of light gaming, it is still probably best to temper your gaming expectations to the barest minimum. With the pool of optimized games in the Microsoft store to draw from, there is a decent stock of options to choose from and enjoy. And with a bit of tweak to the system settings, titles like Hearthstone and Heroes of the storm will play out fairly comfortably, the same can not be said for games like Forza Horizon or Overwatch.
Opting out of the Windows 10 S mode will only ever open up your device to a bunch of older mainstream games like Rocket League and Team Fortress 2, playable only at native resolution and with moderate system settings. It is a Far Cry from the thrills of AAA gaming, but it is just what the Intel UHD graphics card can comfortably afford.
When placed side by side with its predecessor, the Surface Go, the battery life of our review device comes out tops, although the upgrade is not exactly a quantum leap. The battery is not held back by the fact that it is sited behind the screen, nestled in what is a puny headroom in comparison with that of regular clamshells or convertibles. On a single charge, it can stay up and running for a period of time upwards of 8 hours, just about enough to take you through a day.
Cooling and Noise Emission
The Surface Go 2 employs a passive system of cooling in its operation, and from the look and feel of things, it turns out to be just fine. In the absence of fans, the processors that knuckle down in this laptop will not heat the chassis, even at the heat of their computing exertions.
Whether you’re streaming videos in Full HD, plugging away at data-laden spreadsheets, or tab-heavy web browsing, this laptop will keep it’s cool and quiet for long stretches. At critical spots like at the top and bottom of the device, the temperature scale will hardly ever cross the 45 °C mark and hotspots will almost never emerge.
With its base configuration equipped with an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y dual-core processor, along with a meager 4GB of RAM and 64GB eMMC storage, this device will only settle for routine computing tasks like web browsing, emailing, and word processing. And as it runs on the Windows 10 S Mode operating system, you can surf the internet with the Edge browser, or process your documents with the full complement of apps from the perks of Microsoft Office, and you’ll meet with minimal glitches and latency.
Users can opt for the higher-end model of this device that comes with an Intel Core m3-8100Y processor, with double the memory and storage of the base model. With this processor running in full swing, the Surface Go 2 will be able to power through a host of more serious computing. And if you feel too limited by the restrictions of the Windows S Mode OS to its Microsoft Store apps and games confines, the way out is pretty straightforward. You can always step out and step up to the broader horizon of the Windows 10 Home mode, at the attendant risk of reduced system performance of course. You’ll find copious amounts of apps and games to choose from, although it remains to be seen how smoothly they can run if they are even compatible.
Multitasking is possible with this device, as long as you don’t stretch it beyond its limits. If you load tons of Chrome tabs, along with a Full HD video and a couple of spreadsheets all in one fell swoop, then you are setting this device up for a spate of lags. But if you use this laptop for casual computing endeavors, with a smattering of apps at most running simultaneously, while making sure to steer clear of intensive tasks and high-end games, then it’ll be mostly plain sailing for you.
When fully kitted, the price of the Microsoft Surface Go 2 can just as quickly change from cut-rate to cut-throat in the same manner as its utility can transform from a tablet to a traditional laptop. With its hardware ensemble, it is a device that can comfortably process a host of casual computing activities, without giving anything away or necessarily making a lasting impression.
There’s flexibility with the customization and configuration options, as with the Type Cover and the processors, while the webcam and the battery stand out from the pack. Its Windows operating system places it as a better alternative to Chromebooks, as does its very portable profile and a battery that can go the distance, making it top-shelf for student use.
And although it is conservative with ports and performance, it still gets the job done.
1.7GHz Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y (dual-core, 2MB Cache)
Intel UHD Graphics 615 (integrated)
10.5-inch PixelSense (1,920 x 1,280)
1.2 pounds (0.55kg)
9.65 inches x 6.9 inches x 0.33 inches