If you remember the long-discontinued Surface 3—Microsoft’s last attempt at a cheap(er) tablet—Surface Go is what a Surface 4 probably would have been if the company was still using that branding. Compared to the Surface Pro, it has a smaller screen (10in, 1800×1200), a weaker processor (an Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y, which is a two-core, four-thread Kaby Lake chip that was launched about 18 months ago), slower, smaller storage (64GB, using an eMMC interface), and reduced battery life (estimated at 9 hours). But it’s cheaper. A lot cheaper: the base model costs just $399, compared to $799 for the base Surface Pro.
Even with the reduced price, it retains all the major Surface design elements: a variable position kickstand, 8MP rear/5MP front cameras with Windows Hello facial recognition, the Surface Connect magnetic charging and dock port, and a 10-finger multitouch screen with Surface Pen support. It retains the microSDXC card reader and 3.5mm headset jack and adds to this a USB 3.1 generation 1 Type-C port. As with other Surface tablets, Surface Go supports the Type Cover detachable keyboard-covers, though because of its new smaller size, it’ll need new smaller Type Covers. Microsoft also has a new smaller Surface Mobile Mouse if you want an external pointing device.
Preorders for two hardware variants at four price points start today in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Taiwan, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Malaysia, and Thailand. For $399 you get 4GB RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, and Windows 10 Home. An extra $50 upgrades to Windows 10 Pro, and an extra $150 upgrades to 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD. All four combinations will be available. Surface Go Type Covers are $99 or $129 for the fabric-covered Alcantara versions, and the mouse is $34.99. Hardware is due to ship on August 2.
In the future, versions of Surface Go with integrated LTE and 256GB SSDs will be added to the line-up.
The operating system choice is a first for Surface. While Microsoft clearly has at least one eye on the education market with the Surface Go, it’s not aiming there exclusively; Surface Go is also being positioned as a fine home device or a business tool. For some of those users, the Home edition will be adequate, but corporate customers will likely want to pay the extra for Pro.