Sunday, October 24

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go review: Missing sweet spot | Microsoft Surface


Surface Laptop Go is Microsoft’s attempt to bring the best features of its premium machines to the mid-range PC market, but with some corners cut off.

Starting at £ 549, it comes under the £ 999 Surface Laptop 3 and £ 799 Surface Pro 7, but above the £ 399 Surface Go 2 tablet.

It comes at a tempting starting price, but the cheapest model ships with just 64GB of eMMC storage, much slower. So in effect, to get a model with adequate storage, you’ll have to shell out £ 699 for a machine with 128GB of traditional SSD storage.

From the outside, the Laptop Go is a pretty convincing facsimile of the excellent Laptop 3. It’s a bit smaller with the same soft metal lid, but the rest of the body is plastic, not aluminum. It feels solidly built and the keyboard deck is metallic.

microsoft surface laptop go review
The keyboard and trackpad are good, which is to be expected at this price. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The keyboard is slightly smaller and the keys are not backlit, but it offers an equally good typing experience. The trackpad is large and accurate, making it one of the best you can get on a Windows machine.

The LCD screen is slightly smaller at 12.4 inches (compared to 13.5 inches) and while it looks good, it is noticeably less sharp than the higher resolution Laptop 3 and some rivals. If you are used to the sharp screens of premium laptops, you will be a disappointment.

specs

  • Screen: 12.4-inch 1536 x 1024 LCD (148 PPI)

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-1035G1 Quad Core (10th Generation)

  • RAM: 4 or 8 GB

  • Storage: 64GB EMMC or 128GB / 256GB SSD

  • Graphics: Intel UHD

  • OS: Windows 10 Home in S mode

  • Camera: 720P front

  • Connectivity: wifi 6 (ax), Bluetooth 5, USB-A, USB-C, headphones, Surface Connect, fingerprint sensor

  • Dimensions: 278.18 x 205.67 x 15.69 mm

  • Weight: 1,110 g

Weak battery life

microsoft surface laptop go review
The Surface Connect port is for power, but can also be used to connect additional accessories like Surface Dock for more USB ports and monitors. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Laptop Go ships with just one processor option, the 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1, and a choice of 4 or 8GB of RAM, depending on the version. The model we tested had 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage.

The processor is similar to the Core i5 chips used in the Laptop 3 but with a weaker graphics performance. The laptop is generally nimble, handling most tasks easily with similar performance to its rivals, but keep in mind that the Intel chip is next-gen, not the current 11th gen. It’s also hot, meaning the fans were heard frequently and the underside got noticeably hot, especially when upgrading.

However, the battery life is disappointing. The Laptop Go lasts a little over seven hours when used in Windows 10’s S mode, which restricts what you can install, and a little over six when in normal Windows 10 Home, with a few more apps not available. in Microsoft Store installed. That was while using Google Chrome with four tabs open, Evernote, Windows Mail, NextGen Reader, Typora, and various messaging apps.

The Laptop 3 lasts more than eight hours, while Apple’s MacBook Air lasts more than 16 hours in similar conditions.

Fully charging the Laptop Go with the included 39W Surface Connect power adapter took 2 hours and 15 minutes to be dead, reaching 70% in just over an hour. It can also be charged via USB-C with a third-party charger.

Sustainability

microsoft surface laptop go review
The metal cap feels premium, even if the rest of the body is plastic. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Microsoft does not provide an estimate of the expected number of full charge cycles for the Laptop Go battery, which is typically 500 while maintaining at least 80% capacity for other laptop batteries. The user cannot replace the battery. Repairs must be performed by authorized service providers. the out of warranty service fee for Microsoft Laptop Go is £ 343.20 regardless of what is wrong.

The base of the Laptop Go contains 30% post-consumer recycled plastic. Microsoft operates recycling schemes for old machines. He also publishes a company-wide sustainability report and a breakdown of the environmental impact of each product.

Windows 10 Home in S mode

microsoft surface laptop go review
A USB-A, USB-C and headphone port are located on the left side of the machine. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

The Laptop Go ships with Windows 10 Home in S mode, which restricts what you can install to apps from the Microsoft Store. There are many more applications available in the Microsoft Store, so some may be tempted to leave them in S mode.

But if, like me, you need tools like Google Chrome, you’ll need to switch to the standard Windows 10 Home experience, which only takes a few clicks in the Microsoft Store.

Windows 10 on the Laptop Go runs just like any other Surface, which is generally a good experience, no trial software, and no issues. I’ve had fewer problems with Windows on Microsoft laptops than with any other Windows 10 device, but in this case I saw tear problems – where irritating artifacts appear on the screen while scrolling – while reading multiple web pages on Edge and Chrome replicated on two different models.

I also had major problems getting my work Google Workspace email to work properly in Windows 10 Mail and Calendar. At first, it wouldn’t sync the account at all. After an update to the Mail app, it was syncing, but crashed routinely and required a restart of the computer. Microsoft support could not diagnose the problem, and officially said that it does not support Google Workspace, only the consumer Gmail. The irritating problem was not limited to Laptop Go, nor to my private account, but to all current Windows 10 machines that I had access to and all new instances of the Mail app.

Observations

microsoft surface laptop go review
There is a good fingerprint scanner on the power button for logging into the laptop, but it’s not included with the £ 549 version. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian
  • The speakers are a bit small.

  • The webcam is fine, but not as good as the Surface Laptop 3.

  • It can be difficult to get the power connector to fit properly without lifting the laptop due to the angle of his side.

Price

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go Costs £ 549 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. Models with faster SSD storage and 8GB of RAM cost £ 699 with 128GB or £ 899 with 256 GB of storage.

To compare the costs of Surface Laptop 3 £ 999, the Surface Book 3 costs £ 1,599, Surface Pro 7 costs £ 799 and the costs of Surface Go 2 £ 399.

Dell’s XPS 13 starts at £ 899 and Apple’s MacBook Air costs £ 999.

Verdict

Microsoft has a really good low-cost Windows 10 laptop, but unfortunately the Surface Laptop Go isn’t.

It has a lot of the right elements: a great keyboard, a good trackpad, a nice look, and reasonable performance. But it also gets hot, it’s low on battery, software issues, and it’s really not that cheap.

The entry model that costs £ 549 has just 64GB of slow eMMC storage, 4GB of RAM, and no fingerprint scanner. It should be avoided, which means that the actual starting cost is £ 699 and the tested model costs £ 899. Since Microsoft frequently offers a discount of the Surface Laptop 3 at £ 899 or less, which is a substantially better machine, the Laptop Go it is caught between not being good enough and not being cheap enough.

Surface Laptop Go isn’t a bad machine at all, it’s just not that good either, which is a real shame.

Pros: solid performance, good keyboard and trackpad, fingerprint scanner in medium or high model, USB-C, nice appearance, solid construction, recycled plastic.

Cons: weak battery life, heats up, no backlit keys, not as sharp screen and not 1080p HD, not much cheaper than premium machines, software issues.

microsoft surface laptop go review
The base of the laptop can get noticeably hot. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs / The Guardian

Other criticisms


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