The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is for consumers that want a bit more tablet out of their laptop performance. It’s more portable, more kid-friendly, and brings with it a longer battery life. Having the friendliest price tag from the Surface line helps, but is still not its main feature.
Microsoft has the unfortunate burden of creating some of the best laptops this generation. With juggernauts like the Surface Laptop 3 and Surface Pro X, things are getting a little crowded for 2-in-1 laptops. Instead of standing out, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 has to go through a familial gauntlet of competitors.
There is no denying that the Surface design is one of the best in the world. It is made for accessorizing, portability, and cohesive workflow. The Type Cover is a first-party accessory that is worth the full price tag, and has little competition from generic substitutes.
And that is exactly why the company didn’t bother changing anything for the Microsoft Surface Go 2. You have a kickstand that allows multiple viewing angles and an optional Type Cover that can be used seated or unseated. The optional stylus brings the entire package together and should be purchased in unison with the other accessories.
Simply put, the design is perfect. There are no alternate color options to choose from, but you can always purchase a decorative cover. Microsoft can handle the lack of design choices in the same way Apple handled the iPhone SE, with accessories.
It would be nice if Microsoft showed a willingness to openly support 2K or 4K setups. External solutions are possible but come at the cost of portability. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 comes in a non-standard 1920x1280p configuration on a 10.5-inch touchscreen. If you plan on using it as a professional photo editing tablet, the Surface Go 2 is a missed opportunity.
The colors are rich and movement is smooth all over the screen. But there is still a severe lack of quality 4K drawing tablets on the market that don’t cost an arm and a leg. A 4K Microsoft Surface Go 2 would have been the bee’s knees, and possibly the killer feature that separated it from the rest of the Surface line. As it is, the display is great, but pretty standard for any Microsoft-based product.
Surface products are all well-built machines (we love the Surface Pro 7) and they have rarely had hardware issues. The front touchscreen is scratch and shatter-resistant, and should hold up well with regular maintenance. Smudge issues are non-existent since the stylus handles with an accuracy that fingers can only dream of. And with its small 10.5-inch size, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 is comfortable enough to cradle in one arm.
The only external moving part on the Surface Go 2 is the built-in kickstand. It is surprisingly strong and lacks any of the flimsiness of a third-party solution. Having that one movable part is a strength of the device, and makes it unlikely to break from heavy usage.
The Microsoft Surface Go 2 does an ingenious job of hiding inferior hardware behind great software. It is ill-equipped to deal with heavy usage and will choke whenever you go beyond the normal range. There are two versions of the device, and both run on dual-core technology. Trying to load up Adobe products on a dual-core device wasn’t fun a decade ago, and today it remains a pain.
RAM isn’t upgradeable, and the max you can have is 8GB. Going for the 4GB version guarantees that you’ll be locked out of optimized usage for even the most basic Windows programs. Even with the 8GB model, doing anything beyond basic office tasks will cause major headaches with the device. It is impossible to use the Microsoft Surface Go 2 as a creative device since the hardware locks it out of leading programs in multiple industries.
Beyond Microsoft Office and light web browsing, you’re not going to get a lot out of the Microsoft Surface Go 2.
The good news is that there are rear and front cameras on the Microsoft Surface Go 2. The bad news is that both cameras do their job, and nothing more. You’ll find that the rear camera does a slightly better job of taking photos than the Surface Pro series. The tradeoff with that is how inefficient the rear camera is with video.
Surface products come out of the box ready to use Skype video calling. The front-facing camera is decent with video calling and holds its own as a 5MP creation. It’s a bit interesting to mention the Skype integration, since it is a heavy program that works smoothly on the Surface Go 2. Software superiority is everything with the device, but expect video calling to fall apart in multitasking situations. You can’t reliably browse the web while having a video call up on the other side of the screen.
Consumers will face familiar stuttering issues at odd times when moving away from Windows-recommended programs. If you favor something like WhatsApp, it is not a guaranteed smooth experience.
Great sound isn’t something you’d expect from the Microsoft Surface Go 2. Thankfully, it is a surprising feature that really doesn’t get enough appreciation. If you’re on a good connection, expect crystal-clear audio from video and audio calls. The speakers are loud, and you can make out every word from the person on the other side.
Bluetooth support is solid and the Microsoft Surface Go 2 supports the latest USB-C headsets. Microsoft even took it a step further by including a combo audio jack with the list of available ports. With companies moving towards proprietary support with sound devices, this was a refreshing inclusion. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is a solid device for users that care about sound quality and sound accessibility.
How Does the Microsoft Surface Go 2 Compare?
Looking at the Microsoft Surface Go 2 as a tablet instead of a laptop still doesn’t help its credibility. The Surface line being split into tablet and laptop variants makes no sense, even when you factor in the differences of power users and casual consumers. In 2015, the Microsoft Surface 3 made its long-awaited debut. Besides some minor hardware differences, the Surface Go 2 and the Surface 3 are basically the exact same product.
|Microsoft Surface Go 2||Microsoft Surface 3|
|GPU||Intel UHD Graphics 615||Intel HD Graphics|
|CPU||1.7GHz Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y||Quad Core Intel Atom x7-78700|
|Battery||8 hours, 25 minutes||10 hours|
The Surface Go 2 Is a Toss-up Device
In a less competitive market, the Microsoft Surface Go 2 would be the ideal device for portability. But with competition from Apple, Lenovo, and Microsoft’s own product line, the Surface Go 2 is in a difficult position. If the Microsoft Surface Go 2 was the debut device of the series, imagine where the line would be today. In its current state, the Surface Go 2 is behind the times on multiple fronts.