Mi­crosoft Sur­face Go 2

Is Mi­crosoft’s se­cond at­tempt at a price con­scious ul­tra-por­ta­ble 2-in-1 a Go-er?

APC Australia - - CONTENTS - JOEL BURGESS

As our most used work ap­pli­ca­tions con­tinue to be in­te­grated into web browsers, our files be­come in­creas­ingly stored in the cloud, and the ad­vanced pro­cess­ing power re­quired for gam­ing or tech­ni­cal work can now be eas­ily out­sourced via re­mote desk­top sub­scrip­tion, the need for hav­ing a re­ally pow­er­ful lap­top is de­creas­ing by the day. Well-priced com­pact de­vices like Mi­crosoft’s Sur­face Go 2 are per­fectly po­si­tioned to cater to that seem­ingly in­evitable fu­ture, and we hon­estly couldn’t be hap­pier about it.

The price and per­for­mance bal­ance

The most af­ford­able Sur­face Go 2 you can grab lo­cally starts at $598 and comes with an Intel Pen­tium 4425Y pro­ces­sor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on­board stor­age, which is an of­fer­ing that se­ri­ously com­petes with some of the best Chrome­books avail­able. While this model only of­fers Wi-Fi net­work­ing and doesn’t carry a heap of space, the Sur­face Go 2 does fea­ture a Mi­croSD card ex­pan­sion slot, which al­lows you to add cost ef­fec­tive stor­age to it as you see fit.

The next tier up dou­bles the RAM and stor­age al­lo­ca­tions for a to­tal of $879. This clearly moves the de­vice out of the bud­get Chrome­book-like space, but we’d rec­om­mend con­sid­er­ing it if you in­tend to up­date to Win­dows 10 Home from the de­vice’s stock Win­dows 10 S OS, since it has that ex­tra pro­cess­ing head­room for full Win­dows soft­ware and some ad­di­tional space for all the non-Mi­crosoft Store apps you’ll have ac­cess to.

The last vari­a­tion comes with an 8th gen­er­a­tion Intel Core m3 pro­ces­sor, a CPU that was once used to power the Sur­face Pro lineup. Back­ing this up is the same 8/128GB RAM stor­age combo from the more pow­er­ful Wi-Fi of­fer­ing, but the most im­por­tant dis­tinc­tion here is that the Core m3 model comes with 4G LTE con­nec­tiv­ity so you can ac­cess the in­ter­net from any­where through a mo­bile data plan. This pow­er­ful con­fig­u­ra­tion lands at a more ex­pen­sive $1,199, which is on par with the en­try level Sur­face Pro 7s, but when you have to fork out a few hun­dred dol­lars more for com­pa­ra­ble con­stantly-con­nected pro­fes­sional 2-in-1s like the Galaxy Book S, it’s ac­tu­ally a re­ally com­pet­i­tive of­fer­ing.

We tested the mid­dle con­fig­u­ra­tion here and although it has a less pow­er­ful pro­ces­sor it seemed to work ex­cep­tion­ally well for ba­sic web brows­ing and light doc­u­ment pro­cess­ing. In Geek­bench 4 per­for­mance was around 35 per­cent lower than we saw on a Sam­sung Galaxy Book S us­ing a Snap­dragon 8xc pro­ces­sor, which makes sense when you con­sider the 8xc is in­tended to be the mo­bile ar­chi­tec­ture equiv­a­lent of a 10th-gen Intel Core i5. We haven’t com­pared it with the Sur­face Pro 7 Core i3-1005G1 CPU model, but we imag­ine they would stack up sim­i­larly and on­line re­ports sug­gest that it is only 10% be­hind the Ap­ple iPad Pro 2020 in Geek­bench 4 multi-core CPU bench­marks.

In ad­di­tion to this con­sid­er­able per­for­mance up­grade, which is re­ported by Mi­crosoft to be up to 64% more pow­er­ful than the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion, the Sur­face Go 2 has a big­ger 10.5-inch 1920 x

1280 (3:2) Pix­elSense dis­play that is re­ally vi­brant for a bud­get screen. With a peak bright­ness of 280nits it’s not re­ally in the league of the 600nit HDR Ap­ple iPad Pro, but it’s more than enough to give me­dia and doc­u­ments the colour and clar­ity they de­serve, even in di­rect sun­light.

Putting it to work, and play

For those want­ing to do a bit of light gam­ing, all mod­els come with an Intel UHD Graph­ics 615 GPU, which is enough to play 2D in­die games at full res­o­lu­tion or even ti­tles like Rocket League at around 42fps if you dial down the graph­ics to High Per­for­mance 1152x864p set­tings. This as­pect ra­tio is ac­tu­ally 4:3 rather than the Sur­face’s sig­na­ture 3:2, so it didn’t look per­fect on the Sur­face Go 2, but you are some­what lim­ited by the num­ber of ti­tles that will have a wide se­lec­tion of res­o­lu­tions in the 3:2 as­pect ra­tio.

Mi­crosoft spent some time bol­ster­ing the web con­fer­ence ca­pa­bil­i­ties by adding two new far field stu­dio mi­cro­phones to im­prove voice recog­ni­tion and vo­cal clar­ity in web calls. This mar­ries with the ca­pa­ble 8MP rear and 5MP front-fac­ing cam­eras to of­fer solid 1080p on­line meet­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties (which seems to be crit­i­cal these days). Mi­crosoft has in­cluded a new free Photo app that al­lows you to take pic­tures, scan doc­u­ments and cap­ture white­board notes quickly and eas­ily.

While the screen is half an inch big­ger, the over­all size of the de­vice is iden­ti­cal to its pre­de­ces­sor at 24.5cm by 17.5cm high and just 8.5mm thick, which means the screen to bezel ra­tio is bet­ter on the new de­vice. The tablet it­self is also only 544g (553g for LTE) and even if you add the 245g of the Sur­face Go type cover, you’ve got a 2-in-1 de­vice weigh­ing in at un­der 800g, which is just about im­pos­si­ble to beat.

It’s hard to imag­ine a use case for this de­vice with­out the need for the Sur­face Go Sig­na­ture Type Cover, so you’ll have to plan for that ex­tra $199.95 out­lay. This does push the de­vice into the top end of the bud­get Chrome­booke­quiv­a­lent cat­e­gory, but this com­pact key­board ben­e­fits from all the learn­ings of the long­stand­ing Sur­face Pro cover range. The Sur­face Go 2 Sig­na­ture Type Cover is un­doubt­edly com­pact, but the typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is good enough that you’ll quickly adapt and the track­pad is silky and a nice size for scrolling, se­lec­tion and ges­ture con­trol.

All sys­tems go

The Sur­face Go 2 ships in Win­dows 10 S, but Mi­crosoft has made it eas­ier than ever to swap over to full Win­dows 10 Home through a sim­ple up­date that doesn’t even need a restart. While you may have seen bet­ter bat­tery life from Win­dows 10 S, once up­dated to Win­dows 10 Home the 26.8Wh bat­tery lasts five hours and five min­utes in PCMark 8 Home bat­tery and around 8 hours in 1080p me­dia play­back, so there’s no real bat­tery ben­e­fit from keep­ing it in Win­dows 10 S any­more.

The USB-C, 3.5mm head­phone jack and Sur­face Port of­fer a well rounded se­lec­tion of in­ter­face op­tions that make it easy to con­nect wired head­phones on flights or plug mod­ern docks and de­vices di­rectly into the unit. You’ve also got the mi­croSD card slot for af­ford­able stor­age ex­pan­sion and the lat­est Wi-Fi 6 net­work­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties for a fully un­teth­ered ex­pe­ri­ence.

A pow­er­ful, af­ford­able and light­weight com­put­ing de­vice that’s per­fect for stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als who only need light doc­u­ment pro­cess­ing and web brows­ing.

“It’s hard to imag­ine a use case for this de­vice with­out the need for the Sur­face Go Sig­na­ture Type Cover, so you’ll have to plan for that ex­tra $199.95 out­lay.”

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