For years, it seems that Microsoft has been trying to gain market share with their Surface product. Initially, the product faced hardships. From an ARM chipset that only allowed verified Microsoft apps to be installed, to lackluster hardware, the Surface has faced many critics. There was a time when the Microsoft Surface was poised to take on the iPad line.
With the release of the new Surface Go 2 and Surface Book 2, is Microsoft in a position to reposition itself in the portable marketplace? In this guide, we will take a look at the various products in the Microsoft line, and see if the price is worth the product.
Surface Go 2
The Surface Go 2 is Microsoft’s newest edition to its lightweight tablet hybrid line. Starting at $399, the Surface is at a similar price point to the iPad series. Though this is a fairly inexpensive option, is there a compromise in terms of tech specs?
The Surface Go 2 comes out of the box with Windows Home 10 in S mode. Simply put, this is a Windows Operating System, but with restrictions put in place. S Mode only allows users to use a limited amount of functions. Users will not be able to directly download apps, unless they are explicitly approved by Microsoft.
Over the years, Microsoft has faced heavy criticism for locking down lower end Surfaces with lighter versions of the Windows Operating System. Many users claim that this inhibits the functionality of their device. If you are simply looking for a tablet, and not a complete laptop replacement, this may not bother you.
According to Microsoft, the Surface Go 2 can sustain 10 hours on a single charge. This is par for the course for many tablets and is neither impressive, nor unimpressive. Microsoft also claims that the device can last 10 hours on both WiFi, and LTE. If true, this is impressive, as typically LTE has a habit to eat more battery.
The base specs for the Surface Go 2 are as follows:
- Intel Pentium Gold Processor
- 4 GB RAM
- Intel UHD Graphics 615
- 64 GB eMMC Drive
- 10.5″ PixelSense Display
While these specs are acceptable for an entry level tablet, it seems to me that the price point is high. Pentium processors, while adequate, are entry level at best. Perhaps this is why Microsoft locks down Windows on this device; so users can’t install software that would be too much for the processor to handle.
With the low price of DDR4 RAM, 8GB should not cause any financial hardship on Microsoft to implement in the Go 2. The 64 GB drive is par for the course for the price point. The display is vibrant, and may be the best part of the Microsoft Surface Go 2.
Buy or Pass: Pass
Microsoft Surface Book 3
In comparison to the Go 2, The Surface Book 3 is far superior. This product is designed to overtake the market share on Microsoft Windows laptops. The product seems to take a direct stab at the Apple MacBook in terms of beauty and function. Apple may well have a worthy competitor in this product.
The Microsoft Surface Book 3 comes out of the box with Windows 10 Home. While Windows 10 Pro would be preferable, Home will be just fine for most users. Many of the limitations of Windows 10 Home are only applicable on work networks. The full version of Windows 10 will also allow users to download their own software; a welcome change from the Go 2.
The 13.5 inch model of the Surface Book 3 has a battery capable of supporting 15.5 hours of usage, according to Microsoft. This is top tier in regards to length of use, and many users will be able to get through an entire day on a single charge, even with heavy use. Upgrading to the 15.5 inch model will bring the battery life up to 17.5 hours.
The internal specs of the base model Surface Book 3 are as follows:
- Processor: Quad Core Intel i5 – Tenth Generation
- Memory: 8GB DDR4 RAM
- Graphics: Intel Iris Plus 1035 G7
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- Display: 13.5″ PixelSense Display
These specs are more than enough to get the average user through a day of work. You may want to upgrade if you use intensive applications such as PhotoShop or Illustrator. The i5 will be able to power through most applications with ease.
8GB of DDR4 memory may seem low, but DDR4 is significantly improved over DDR3. Ideally, the Surface Book 3 should come stock with 16 GB, but 8 will work. The 256 GB SSD is standard for the price point, and should be enough for most users. The display is also beautiful, and is a huge selling point.
Buy or Pass: Buy
Microsoft has implemented several changes in this iteration of the Surface. And while the Surface Go 2 has shortcomings, the power and beauty of the Surface Book 3 cannot be overlooked. If you are looking for a powerful device with a good battery life, we recommend the Surface Book 3.